The Heron and the Moon

The Heron and the Moon.
The Heron and the Moon.

Sometimes a wonderful photographic opportunity just falls into place with no effort on my part.

I watched a hawk dive down towards the water of Wet Beaver Creek and then heard the squawking of another bird—this heron—as it took flight. It landed in this tree top a moment later. And then I saw that the Moon was right there. I only had to take a step or two for this positioning of Moon and heron. And, then, a moment later, it took flight again and was gone.

Fogbows, Glories, and Brocken Spectres

Another winter storm brought some snow but also morning fog to some of the low-lying areas. This type of shallow fog can produce fogbows as well as a Glory and Brocken spectre. I was not disappointed as all three were visible.

Fog bow with Glory and Brocken spectre.
Fog bow with Glory and Brocken spectre.
Glory and Brocken Spectre (center) with partial segments of a Fogbow.
Glory and Brocken Spectre (center) with partial segments of a Fogbow.

Time lapse (50x) of fog.

Another round of snow is expected this week.

Mountain-Generated Snow Squalls

A few days ago we had an impressive snow squall that formed downwind of the San Francisco Peaks. Watching this evolve on radar was fascinating and I decided to drive to a location where I would have a good view to the east.

Low clouds and fog brightly lit by the sun
Low clouds and fog brightly lit by the sun
Annotated image showing cloud motions in the snow squall.
Annotated image showing cloud motions in the snow squall.

Clouds in the west were blocking most sunlight but there was a narrow gap that allowed the sun to brightly illuminate the low clouds and fog associated with this event.

Radar depiction of a snow squall.
Radar depiction of a snow squall.

The radar image shows the precipitation from the snow squall while the large white dot is my location. The overall motion of the low cloud was to the south-southeast (left-to-right in the photograph)—however, the motion at the top of the low cloud was in the reverse direction (i.e., right-to-left) and there was some rotation along the cloudy/clear interface. This is fairly typical of a density current with cold air sliding under warmer air and shear/rotation being present at the interface.

Another fun day of cloud photography!

Birds in Flight

A few days after our big snowfall event I ventured out to Mormon Lake in search of interesting photographs. Upon arrival, I was treated to several hawks and ravens drifting on the wind directly over the Mormon Lake Overlook. Switching from the landscape settings to something more useful for capturing birds in flight (BIF) took a few minutes to get right.

Hawk riding the updrafts near Mormon Lake.
Hawk riding the updrafts near Mormon Lake.
Two (of three) hawk near Mormon Lake.
Two (of three) hawk near Mormon Lake.
Raven riding the updrafts near Mormon Lake.
Raven riding the updrafts near Mormon Lake.

I managed to catch one good image of this hawk up close and one image of a couple riding the updrafts. I also got few good images of a pair of ravens (or maybe crows???).

There were captured with a Nikon D750 and the Nikon AF-P 70-300mm zoom lens.

Ice fishing on Upper Lake Mary.
Ice fishing on Upper Lake Mary.

One the way home, we spotted these folks out on Upper Lake Mary doing some ice fishing and just hanging out on a fine day.

Sunrise and Snow at Wupatki National Monument

After several days of heavy snow in the higher elevations we got a break in the weather. I was specifically interested in photographing snow in Wupatki National Monument. The park had reported a few inches of snow so I had hopes that some of it was still around.

I arrived at Wukoki Pueblo a few minutes before sunrise. There had been snow all the way down — even at the Visitors Center — but dropping that last bit of elevation to the pueblo was enough to have erased the snow cover to just a few patches. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping to see but was still interesting.

Here are a few images taken just after sunrise.

Sunlight strikes the top of Wukoki Pueblo a few minutes after sunrise.
Sunlight strikes the top of Wukoki Pueblo a few minutes after sunrise.
A few minutes later and the whole pueblo is illuminated by early morning light.
A few minutes later and the whole pueblo is illuminated by early morning light.
Patches of snow are a striking contrast to the red rock of Wukoki Pueblo.
Patches of snow are a striking contrast to the red rock of Wukoki Pueblo..

I returned home via Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and captured this image of the cinder cone covered in new snow.

Sunset Crater after several days of snow and wind.
Sunset Crater after several days of snow and wind.

And now we have another snow storm approaching the area and January will end up with above normal snowfall amounts.