Bear Canyon Lake

Twilight in the High Country

It’s not all dry, hot desert in Arizona. Bear Canyon Lake, one of several fishing lakes built by Arizona Game and Fish, is nestled back a series of dirt roads on the Mogollon Rim. The lake, with a depth of 50 feet and set at an elevation of 7600 feet, is accessible only by foot trail from the undeveloped campgrounds above.

Summer Peace at Bear Canyon Lake

Bear Canyon Lake is located just a few hours northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.

As if the earth reflects our lives …

The harshness of the desert landscape with the flat grey sky, dried grass, and formidable, imposing boulders hit me hard while I hiked through Boyce Thompson Arboretum a few days ago. This image is a visual representation of the relentless record-breaking soul-sucking heat (34 days of 110+ temps) and drought in Arizona, the bizarre nature of our world with pandemic isolation, unemployment, and online classrooms, raging wildfires, and the endless vitriol of this election cycle. I pray for rain, for healing, and for peace.

A bit further along the trail, I noticed this desert tree softening the jagged edges of the landscape. I stopped and gazed on the tree a while, taking into my mind and spirit the refreshing green life, and I was reminded to be grateful for all of creation … to be grateful for all that life offers. Without the difficult times, how would we recognize the good times? Without the sad times, how would we recognize the happy times?

While it shows evidence of Arizona’s drought, the arboretum is still a treasure of plants and trees from the Arizona and Sonoran desert as well as from around the world.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located east of Phoenix, AZ on Hwy 60.

Majestic Canyon Lights

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I took a friend from Shanghai to photograph our state’s treasure, The Grand Canyon. I was disappointed that I could not “give” her one of Arizona’s fabulous sunsets which would paint the canyon in a riot of colors and hues. When I viewed my images later, I realized that what we had captured might be as good as, or better than, the typical sunset photograph that is ubiquitous throughout the gift shops in Arizona and on the Internet.

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We had waited patiently for sunset, just sure that the clouds would shift ever so slightly to allow the sun to give us a show. We watched the rain as it moved around the butte to form a soft curtain which made its path steadily toward us.

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I’m sure that we looked absurd when we donned rain ponchos and held umbrellas above our cameras as we stubbornly stayed to capture the last bit of light and shadow in The Grand Canyon (and before the last shuttle departed).

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Throughout the day, I had wished for a break in the clouds for the dance of light in the canyon. We got a few glorious moments.

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Sunday Post: Unforgettable

DSC_0122Unforgettable? I’m 62 years old, and I have a lifetime of unforgettable moments; I had not truly appreciated that fact until I started to look for images to post for Jakes’s Sunday Post.

I now realize that I am blessed to have had far too may unforgettable moments to post on this blog.

Unforgettable: the first time I opened the blanket to touch Baby Elle’s little toes three years ago. (“Image by Mona” … nope my son/her daddy took this shot.)

Unforgettable: All of the incredible moments I am fortunate enough to spend with her as she grows into a remarkable little girl.

Unforgettable: If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I spent the past two summers working and playing in China, part of it trekking about by myself. The first summer, when I was 60, I took a night-train from Shanghai to Beijing alone and toured the major sites with an English-speaking tour group. The second summer, I spent a week alone in Shanghai. This might not be that remarkable to those of you who are seasoned travelers, but it is quite UNFORGETTABLE and remarkable for me because this was my first time out of the United States.

Unforgettable: An invitation to dinner in a private home in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. What’s even better is that we were allowed to “help” in making the dumplings.

New to Word press? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in my Weekly Competition to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in 2013 Lucky Snake Event. (It’s the Year of the Snake!) Everyone is welcome to participate, if your blog is about photography,Video, Graphic Artwork Or Writing.

1. Each week, Jake provides a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS. GET THE BADGE FOR YOUR IMAGE WIDGET….

 

Make sure to have the image link to http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ so that others can learn about the challenge, too.

Posted in: Sunday Post

Las Noches de las Luminarias

I’ve lived in the Phoenix area for more than 25 years, and each year I’ve promised myself that I would get to Las Noches de las Luminarias (literally, The Nights of The Lights) at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

The powerful saguaro appears to guard the adobe house decorated with luminaries.

The powerful saguaro appears to guard the adobe house decorated with luminarias.

Two nights ago, I kept my promise. At first I was disappointed that I could find no one to go with me, but, once there, I was thankful for the chance to wander alone through the paths lit with the soft glow of more that 8,000 hand-light luminarias and thousands of twinkling white lights.

I was delighted by the sounds of jazz, blues, flamenco guitar, didgeridoo, and a hand-bell choir, along with stories told by a Native American storyteller. I finished my evening with a hand-warming cup of hot chocolate and more jazz in the garden.

And of course, because this is a post about The Nights of The Lights and because I love taking shots of the moon, I must include the picture I took last night of the most magnificent Light of the Night, the last full moon of 2012. (Click on any image for descriptions and slideshow.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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I require my students to reflect on their learning, to take their written pieces and describe their strengths and, more important, what they will do to produce better writing the next time. They also must reflect on the text they read, answering the question, “So what?” They need to determine, “What does this novel mean to me? What can I learn about life or the human condition by reading it? How can I make my life, and the lives of those around me, better as a result of reading this book (or article, or poem)?”

The great philosopher Socrates urged his pupils to reflect on their lives:

 The unexamined life is not worth living.

When I sit down with my journal, I reflect on my day, my week, my life, holding up a mirror, so to speak, to my words and actions, examining what went right and what didn’t. Then I make promises to myself and to God that I will do better. However, that is akin to my students writing, “I will work harder” in their reflections about writing. I try to figure out what I can do to make tomorrow better, much the same as when I ask the students to get specific (“I will use parallel structure.”).

Reflection

Now, don’t these two scenes just invite you to sit on a blanket at the edge of this mountain pond and quietly reflect?

Do yourself a favor, and check out more reflections and responses to this week’s photo challenge.

New to The Daily Post? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in our Weekly Photo Challenge to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in Post a Day / Post a Week. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.

Our Paths Crossed Again

In June, I spent a fascinating day wandering around Shanghai with a incredible woman I’d met through this blog  (Exploring Shanghai With Flamidwyfe).

I spent another day with Sandi, this time in Florida, USA. Last week, I participated in a workshop in on Miami Beach,  learning IB teaching methodology; Sandi, who had recently returned to the states after finishing her gig in China, joined me at the very comfortable (luxurious) resort. You must understand, however, that while Sandi was toasting her toes poolside, I was holed up in the nether regions below ground. Check out her blog entry. 

Sandi (not to be confused with the hurricane, although she exudes strength and power that could stand up to any storm) and I spent the evening sharing a bottle of wine and years of stories.

While Hurricane Sandy was gathering energy to cause devestation further north, we were gifted with a glorious pastel sunset as a result of her passage near South Florida.

Sunset, Miami Beach, October 27, 2012

Next post: Sunrise

My Final Lesson in Shooting Landscape

Saturday morning: While it was still dark, before dawn, Sophie and I began our trek up a small mountain to capture the sunrise.  Immediately, I realized that the flashlight that I keep in my camera bag didn’t work and I had to negotiate the rocky ascent with a dim light from my iPhone. Fortunately, Sophie led the way.

We weren’t on the mountain long before I realized there was another problem. I had diligently checked the forecast for Sedona before leaving home, but I had paid attention to only the daytime highs (thankful for the possible break from our 95+ degree Phoenix temps). Now, I own a warm winter coat and gloves, but they were inconveniently tucked in the back of my closet back home while my hands and feet began to feel numb. Worse than that, my little cocker spaniel shivered and huddled in the freezing weather.

We waited for nearly an hour before the sun’s rays began to inch over the mountain; however, it was not in vain. I used the time to wait, to pray, to practice meditation (I’m terrible at it as my mind will not quiet down). I enjoyed the pure quiet in that suspended state between sleep and wakefulness, while the sky slowly lightened.

The site I’d chosen is one of the famous vortexes of Sedona. I won’t take this space to explain the vortex, but your can find out more by googling “vortex Sedona” if you are interested. I, however, did not experience the energy that many people claimed to feel (only COLD).

7:03 AM 10/13/12 ISO 250, 1/60 at f/18 105 mm, Canon EOS 60 D

Eventually the sun’s radiance slowly casts its glow upon the face of the red rock formations in the East, but nothing spectacular was happening. However, when I turned around I audibly gasped at the breathtaking beauty as the sun splashed its color toward the West.

7:08 AM, 10/13/12, 1/40 sec at f/18, ISO 250, 24 mm, Canon EOS 60D

7:09 AM, 10/13/12, 1/40 sec at f/18, ISO 250, 70 mm, Canon EOS 60D

LESSON #4: 1) Plan for the weather. 2) Change the settings for sharper focus. Do you see the settings on the above images. I should have set the ISO at 100 and the aperture at f/11. 3) Use the tripod (which I did this time, I am happy to report). 4) Use a cable (or off-camera) release to further minimize camera shake. 5) Check ALL equipment before leaving home, not just the camera gear. A working flashlight would have been invaluable as I stumbled up the mountain in the dark.

I couldn’t leave the top of the mountain without commemorating our early morning experience.  Sophie is not at all happy as she continues to shiver against the cold.

After I got the shots from the top of the mountain, I drove to the other side of town and watched the early morning light and shadow play across the the famous Bell Rock in Sedona.

Even though I did not produce an image sharp enough to make a large print to hang on my wall, I did learn valuable lessons about shooting landscape, and I had the chance to relax my mind as I stood in awe, dwarfed by the magnificence of this incredible natural world God has given us.