Albuquerque sky in 30 minutes? Well, yes. Especially regular readers here know I love the skies in Albuquerque and New Mexico and all of the desert Southwest. I see something worth noting almost every day. Because late yesterday afternoon was especially noteworthy, I want to share a few images. Most of all, these all occurred within 30 minutes. Maybe this happens every day, but this time I happened to catch it. 🙂
Monsoon light makes for some remarkable skies here in the high desert. The rain is always welcome. That is especially true this year, which has been very dry to this point. Monsoon season seems to have finally arrived, with heavy rain in some parts of Albuquerque two nights ago and an inch of rain at my house last night. Photographer friends here in Albuquerque remember the monsoon skies of 2009. 2016 may be remembered for its rainbows. Albuquerque has a reputation of sorts for its rainbows, especially the double ones. This has been a great year for rainbows!
Two nights ago I photographed a striking, although single, rainbow. I knew it would develop because of the special monsoon light that appeared as the clouds cleared from the west, with heavy clouds to the east. Anyone who has been here for any length of time and has watched the skies at all knows what this looks like.
7:17pm, MDT. Sun breaking through storm clouds to the west lit this little goldfinch and the branches of a neighbor’s tree dead from the prolonged drought. Heavy, dark clouds covered the mountains to the east. This is the set-up for a rainbow here in Albuquerque. The little spots are not dust on the sensor, but light reflecting off very light drizzle falling at the time.
7:19pm, MDT. A very faint rainbow appeared.
By 7:25pm MDT a magnificent, full arc rainbow had completely developed, persisting for some time.
I chose this particular evening to focus on the interplay of the monsoon light with things I enjoy in my yard. The large sunflowers are almost ripe with seeds for the birds. This image seems to speak to people with a variety of different beliefs about the cycle of life, with the fading sunflowers that will soon provide nourishment for the birds, and the rainbow, a symbol of hope for people of many different beliefs.
Monsoon light – just one more reason I love living in the high desert of New Mexico.
A Better View May Be Behind You. Be Sure to Look in All Directions
“A better view may be behind you” is taught in photography classes almost as much as what “aperture” means. Over the years I have definitely learned to look around. I may not always find “a better view,” but sometimes I will, and will often find something worth photographing in addition to the “main attraction,” whatever that is.
The first freeze of the season is predicted for Albuquerque tonight (November 5). Yesterday morning as the first of the storm appeared, we were treated to a glowing sunrise, stormy, with fog and clouds drifting in and out of the valleys on the mountains, separating them into layers.
When I glanced around, almost by accident and not really expecting much in the western sky, there was a rainbow! I’m not really suggesting that the rainbow could outdo the sunrise, but, as common as rainbows are here looking east toward the mountains in late afternoons, they are relatively uncommon in the morning. The rainbow was an unexpected surprise, and a reminder to always look around to see what is there!
New Mexico skies – always beautiful, never boring, and no better view anywhere. 🙂
Tonight’s sky and its rainbow were rare, even by New Mexico standards. Although this view from my house shows a boiling sky with much turbulence up above, there was no wind at my house and, sadly, no rain. Other places nearby, however, got both.
Several things were unusual about this rainbow. First, it was essentially a single rainbow, in contrast to the many double rainbows seen frequently in Albuquerque. Even triple and quadruple rainbows are not unheard of here. A single rainbow is relatively uncommon.
On close inspection, the rainbow appears not to have a smooth edge or smooth curve, in contrast to what is usually seen. Low clouds were passing by, and light from the sun in the west was broken up in different places by these clouds, giving a somewhat jagged appearance. At one point, the rainbow appeared to be cut in half by a passing cloud.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about this rainbow was the length of time it lasted. I do not know how long it was out there before I saw it. I began photographing at 7:15:29 pm, and stopped at 7:36:13 pm. Remnants were still visible near the base when I came in. A minimum of 21 minutes is a very long time for a rainbow to remain visible, at least here in the desert!
Of course, the dominant feature in the sky was the cloud/clouds. For all of that upper level turbulence, it was calm on the ground at my house. And, the whiteness at sunset is somewhat unusual for clouds, even looking east to the Sandia Mountains.
Once again, Albuquerque and New Mexico had an amazing sky. Thanks for your patience with this oft-used phrase, dear readers.
Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico includes the river, the bosque, and metropolitan Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, and others. While cities and villages are included, there are also many rural areas, even at times within the cities and villages. I spent yesterday with good friends exploring parts of the Corrales area I had never seen, ending the evening on their deck for wonderful food and great conversation.
These images are not spectacular in the sense of being in any way unusual. These are very typical images from a summer afternoon in the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.
This area is known for its double rainbows. It is rare to see a single rainbow. If you look closely you will see that the main rainbow includes a double portion in at least the middle of the arc, while a portion of another bright rainbow is in the left of the image. It was a beautiful sky.
When I got home last night, on the opposite side of the river, I found 1/2 inch of water in my rain gauge. The rain falling behind the rainbows was falling at my house!
It was a perfect ending to a beautiful – and typical – summer day in the Middle Rio Grande Valley!