The Ballarat Badlands

The Ballarat Badlands is an old pyrite mine site from many years ago down south of Ballarat but still within the city limits. Its a place I visit a couple of times a year to have a walk around the amazing landforms that resemble (in miniature) the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Its not the place to visit after rain as the surface gets very messy and clingy so I knew the recent dry weather would give me the chance to wander as I liked.
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Intense

Throughout the Ballarat district on Monday we had a number of planned burn-offs in operation, and by the end of the day there was quite a haze of smoke around. So even though there was little in the way of clouds, the sunset, especially out on the south shore of Lake Burrumbeet, was one of the most intense I have seen for a long time. And the almost total lack of wind here also really smoothed out the water for some great images from another of my favourite spots on the shoreline of the rapidly diminishing lake.


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The Gentle Lapping of the Waves......

Even though there were no clouds to work with on Sunday evening out at Lake Burrumbeet, the calmness of the evening and the gentle lapping of the waves created a really nice swell that caught the slowly sinking sun in a multitude of dazzling reflections. We are right in the middle of a calm, warm autumn spell that is so common here in Ballarat and everyone is making the most of the conditions before the onset of the colder times ahead. 


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Mammoth Morn

On our last morning in Yellowstone National Park I made my way up to the Mammoth Terrraces for sunrise. Once again it was very cold, around minus 10! This image was about 20 minutes before the sunrise as I was just hanging around waiting, and it was only after looking at these images later on that I realised how special the light was in this one. Its an amazing location with so much around you in all directions that is so unique from anything you are used to...and our decision to go this time to Yellowstone in winter was a great decision.
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An Evening Stroll

After some cold conditions the last few days, on Saturday the mild Autumn weather was a welcome return and so I spent a pleasant half an hour or so just before sunset up at Lake Wendouree with a couple of cameras in hand, just collecting whatever caught my eye. This time of year often provides some lovely light when combined with the colours of autumn and all this so close to home.



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Both Sides of the Canyon

This is a set from our visit to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The Yellowstone River has 2 sets of magnificent falls that empty into the canyon that is 39km long. The conditions were ideal with the snow and just enough sunshine to light up the sides of the canyon and we were fortunate to get the view from 3 different spots - first is the traditional view from Artists Point on the south side, then a nice up close view of the Upper Falls (109 feet) and finally a view from the north side of the canyon of the Lower Falls (308 feet). You can probably see from these why we are so keen to keep visiting these parks!


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Dark and Gloomy

Out at Lake Burrumbeet on Friday evening just before the non-existant sunset. Not a lot to work with, though I find on these dull and gloomy days that the inclusion of a water element at least adds some interest. I think its worth going back to some Yellowstone images.......
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There's Always Something.....

A taste of winter on Thursday....cold winds and squally rain showers had me heading north to Birchs' Creek at Smeaton to check on water levels, and its a location I can always come home with something nice when the conditions aren't conducive to photography. The creek flow has dropped since last time here, though this creates some nice variations in the small cascade I often visit and once again I came home with a nice selection of images. A great example of realising that bad weather doesn't mean you should put the camera away!



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No So Early

Quite a nice sunrise at Lake Wendouree on Wednesday morning. And you don't have to get up too early at the moment, this one from about 7.25am, though it was pretty cold at around 2C. This will all change in just over a week when we end daylight saving, so I'm making the most of it.
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Warming Light On A Cold, Cold Day

Todays trip image comes from Mesa Verde National Park in south west Colorado. Very cold conditions this day as the elevation is well over 8000 feet. This park is especially noted for its ancient Indian cliff dwellings, though most tend to forget about the 211 square kilometres of park land that has some great landscape features. This was on the way back out of the park (its a 20 mile drive to get back to the entrance!) as the sun was getting very low and casting some lovely warming light across the amazing geological formations that makes up some areas of the park.
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Cracked

I made another quick trip out to Lake Burrumbeet on Tuesday evening and at the most popular site at the Lake, the main beach area, I found some great cracked shoreline that gave me some nice opportunities with the setting sun. First time I have seen this type of cracking at Burrumbeet - if the water level continues to fall I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of it. 

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Caineville Colours and Textures

Here's my first image from the trip that I've had a good look at. Just outside of the east entrance to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, in an area called Caineville, is an amazing array of desolate but intriguing landforms. Personally I feel this area should be added as a unit of the National Park, it is truly extraordinary. I had to stop at this location (one of many we stopped at on the drive out of the area) as there was something about the many layers, colours and textures that had me captivated.
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A Lake Sunset

Lake Wendouree is taking on some of the autumn colour seen around Ballarat at the moment. This view from the south east corner just before sunset on Monday evening. One thing I've noticed since our return is how much the sun has swung north in its setting position on the horizon as we move further into the year.
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A Lower Lake

One of the first locations I like to check out on returning from overseas is Lake Burrumbeet, so Sunday evening looked promising, though the big sunset petered out before it had a chance to do much. The level of the lake has continued to drop, though there is still plenty of water left, and the new sand banks that keep appearing further and further out from the shore continue to provide great opportunities for photography. Here's a couple......

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A Touch of Colour

On arrival back into Ballarat yesterday there are a few definite signs that autumn is well on its way. None more so than this tree in Wesbter Street that was a riot of colour amongst its still generally green neighbours. Not a bad way to get back into some local images, with a lot more colour to come over the ensuing weeks ahead.
Now, back to the trip images........


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Contrast A World Apart

Yes, I'm back! After a 24 hour set of flights from Albuquerque New Mexico, via Phoenix, to Los Angeles and including the 14hr 45minute flight to Melbourne (I watched 4 movies on the flight!) we arrived back home just before lunchtime on Saturday. Jet lag hasn't had a chance to set in yet, so I thought I'd post this nice set of bookends from the start and finish of the trip. 
The very first morning I almost missed the bus from Ballarat Railway Station as I was shooting a very nice sunrise over the iconic train station building. And then almost 4 weeks later whilst on a wander around the streets of central Santa Fe, some great stormy clouds had built up that caught my eye. And funnily, I managed to capture some birds in each image!
Can't wait to get into the images from the trip seriously now I'm home..stay tuned for some very exciting images coming up!

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Looking Down on the Tents

On our last full day we managed to fit in a visit to Kashe - Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, about 40 minutes out of Santa Fe. Some amazing rock formations, totally unlike anything we had seen before, kept us snapping away for quite some time, and the hike from the car park through the canyon right to the top of the cliffs was a great finale to a fantastic trip.
I've got many, many images to go through on return, and the best are yet to come, so make sure you visit regularly over the next few weeks as I've been saving the best until I get back home.
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From Canyon to Happy to Turkey and Beyond.....

We've covered a lot of miles in the last 3 days going from Colorado over to Oklahoma through Texas and back again into New Mexico. Tonight we are in Las Vegas.....no, not the one with all the glitz and glamour, this is the one in New Mexico. Only a couple more nights to go before we head home.
This selection is a mish mash of bits n pieces, starting with a nice sunrise as we headed out of Canyon in Texas, passing through a small town called Happy on the way to Turkey before stopping at one of the highlights of the trip..the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo in Texas. I was pleased to read the sign here  just to clarify that this was not a National Park.....I wasn't quite sure til I read the sign!
And did you now you can get a free 72oz steak in Amarillo?! The catch is you have to eat it all at the one sitting! No one does it bigger than the Texans!



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A Day at the Dunes

A couple of images from our day at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. We spent the whole day at the park after firstly visiting Zapata Falls, just a few miles outside the park entrance, and well worth the 3 mile dirt road, and half mile climb to get to across frozen snow. In the park we did the big climb out to the dunes and climbed to the top of "High Dune". Some impressive views from up that high, and also later on in the day shown here looking back at the dunes late in the day.
Now we are off for a quick visit to Oklahoma via Texas........

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Big Sky Colorado

A follow on from the last post of great sights we have seen outside of the National Parks. This was on the way back to the motel in Alamosa after visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park ad Preserve. We had awesome conditions with amazing skies throughout the day. This was almost an after thought to stop and capture this!
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Between The Parks

Whilst the focus of our travels is the National Parks in the USA, there are many, many other great sights we see on our travels, like this one today. We left Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park this morning and headed further south east into Colorado to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Along the way there were many spectacular views such as this view at Curecanti National Recreation Area. Still masses of snow around, and now wonder as we spent most of today at a higher elevation than Australia!
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Red Rock Sunrise

After quite a few days with no clouds in sight, this morning in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah there was a spectacular show of colour and clouds. The waning moon is still making a regular appearance and adds a nice extra element into the sky in this image taken in a cold 0 degrees. 
We have left Utah behind and have made our way into Colorado where we will be visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in the next day or so......its up pretty high so I'm expecting some snow and exciting conditions!
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Not So Grand

We are seeing some amazing grand vistas on this trip, and none more so than in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah where we are at the moment for a couple of nights. However, a couple of smaller intimate landscapes caught my eye recently, including this amazing set of icicles we found on the Neck Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park a couple of days ago, and then this morning on the way into Capitol Reef I was looking for the Freemont River Falls...when we found them there was a huge barrier barring any access. I couldn't resist the tempation to venture a little further and I'm glad I did...the top area of the falls was fantastic with the reflected golden light. Just goes to show its not all about the big picture!

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Golden Arches

No, not McDonalds! We are in Moab, Utah at the moment, a great central point for visiting Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. Each park has an iconic view assciated with it.....in Arches its Delicate Arch with the snow capped La Sal mountains in the background - its a 5km round-trip hike that is best done just before sunset. In Canyonlands, Mesa Arch is equally famous, and best captured very early in the morning. Both parks have many spectacular views and are quite different from each other. The weather has been quite warm during the days here, a marked contrast from earlier in the trip, and clear blue skies all around.

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Another Canyon Morn

Our last morning at the Grand Canyon really reached its peak just as we were warming up the car for the drive to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. With plenty of snow and ice to thaw away, we let the car sit for a while whilst we made a last visit down to the rim of the canyon were some great light and atmospherics were really putting on a nice show. I've been thrilled with my GC images from this, our 4th visit, no doubt my best so far....got plenty more amazing images to share when we return home.
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Canyon Morn

A quick post from this morning's sunrise here at the Grand Canyon. The morning dawned clear and crisp and very cold, and the light across the canyon was magic, constantly changing as the sun got higher and higher. Its pretty nice when this sort of view is only a few minutes walk from where we are staying! 
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Let There Be Light.......

After continuous snow for all the day, and another 2 hour hike in at times cold and windy conditions, we were chilling out in our room when around 5pm a slight lightening in the sky had me, and Debbie a few minutes later, rushing over to the rim of the Grand Canyon where we were treated to an amazing display. Fortunately we are only about 2 or 3 minutes away from the rim's edge, though it takes a few minutes to put all your warm weather gear on as well! A huge bonus end to the day as the forecast was firm that there would be no sun for another 2 days. This is a quick post to show you what we were fortunate to witness. There was a real buzz around the place as everyone was so excited to finally see into the canyon after a constant white-out through the day.
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A Colourful Start

On my way out to Lake Burrumbeet on Wednesday morning the skies were looking pretty clear, so I was very happy when some clouds built up jus...