San Juan Badlands

Well, sort of.  I think they are called 'bad' because they are hiding!  The map shows areas where one might find them and a couple are quite well known (Bisti).  But, those little side dirt roads are not specifically labeled to help you find your way!  We had fun exploring and we did see some of the rock formations that I associate with 'badlands'.  Actually, this area got its name 'badlands' because it is so hard to grow anything.  Farming is not supported in the area but there is a lot of natural gas and it is being extracted.

The mustard color denotes sites of 'badlands' rock formations.  Most of the roads are dirt, some requiring high clearance.

Tom and I were joined by my brother, Steve, and Angie.  Steve has just the right vehicle for a trip such as this.  Of course, being a passionate photographer, he was very willing to pull over for just about anything . . . like an old abandoned house below the 'rocks'.

A stop along the road.  I went around the corner on the left to explore the other side, which as we approached looked like it had more detail in the rocks.  See detail below.

This became my imaginary turned inside out cavern. I could not imagine how these rock formations were created.  If we were to dissect Karchner Caves would it look like this?

I suddenly realized that I had walked quite a a way around this side of the mountain, leaving the others MUCH closer to the car!  OK, I have a foot panorama going here.  Keep walking!!  They won't leave me.

Oh!!!  Getting so much more interesting!

Giving my neck a rest from looking up . . . 

While I pursued one type of image, the rest of the group focused on 'items of interest'.  So nice to see both sides of the mountain while only walking half the trek!


Oh so showing off fall color where there is none! 

The aliens are landing on the wrong side of the mountain!!

From our roadside stop we head back to seek the ever elusive road into 'badlands'.  Everyone is looking on their phones and Steve even sports a real GPS navigator on the dash!  One road is deemed 'of interest' and off we go over the cattle guard to explore.  Not quite what we expected but we are troopers!  The clouds are building, there are still images to capture.

Steve skunked us on the horse. To get yellow flowers as well . . . just lucky!

Now that is a root indeed.  A little bonsai shaped tree, small . . . but that root is a hoot!

What plants do in the badlands to survive.  Amazing.

Better than Balancing Rock at Arches National Park.  I'll bet Nancy can make a famous person's face out of this one.

Steve enjoys shooting with an infrared filter.  This genre is not for the faint-o-heart!  He uses a 720nm filter.  He shot these at f/11, ISO 1220, with shutter speeds from 10 to 13 seconds.  He uses a Canon D5 Mark II (full frame) and at 35mm.  The images are then processed in Lightroom as a B&W, and then imported into Silver FX.  He does not set his camera up for monochrome.  He shoots RAW (wants full control over adjustments) and on a tripod.  Lots of experimentation is required as it is not unlike shooting with big stopper ND filters where you cannot see the image once the filter is on.  Composition is also very different.  Steve looks for foliage (green and living) and skies with clouds (to add white to a black sky.  Long exposures require a quiet wind and a sturdy tripod.

Processed image below.  His preview on the camera is this red color.  It takes practice to imagine, then, how the image will appear when fully processed.

Notice what happened to the yellow flowers!

Adapting, surviving and waiting for Angie.

By now our hunger pains are front of mind, more so than photo opportunities.  We head back into Cuba to a restaurant named Brunos.  It is large, nicely decorated with locally themed art, with seating for many.  Then I realized that Brunos serves the many travelers between Albuquerque and Farmington.  But first, there are shots from the car.  Tom gives you an idea of what the San Juan Basin looks like.  Oh, and his never ending love affair of all-things cars, especially the classic look!

Entry gate to Brunos.

Finally, as we get closer to Bernalillo (northern end of Albuquerque), the sun brightens the mountains to the south.  It was a fabulous, if long, day.  You were with us in spirit and it is with warm thoughts of your friendship that I write this blog.  Tom is in Austin tonight, the start of another grand adventure.  He promised photos so stay tuned.  Thanks for sharing.