Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Curves are so ubiquitous in our experiences that I tried to spend some time isolating some particular aspect of the theme try to focus on before responding.  Curves are present in all kinds of human constructs. They are an essential part of the engineering design, and  often they are there just for aesthetic purposes.  Chances are that you look around in a room and you will find something with curves.  I have plenty of such pictures.

But I had to think a little more to come up with curves that exist in a natural context.  Here are a few examples that I thought of.

The surface of the earth is curved but it is very difficult to observe curvature unless you are flying very high or you are observing big objects very far away beyond the horizon over a “flat” surface like a body of water.  I have pictures where I think I can see curvature from an aircraft but I am not sure if it is real or due to camera distortion. Anyway, here are a couple of shots and you can decide for yourself if you see any curvature, and if so, what the real cause might be.
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You see natural curves in the desert when the wind tends to shape the hills of sand.   (While curves are visible at the macro level, the surface is indeed not smooth at the micro level, where they may be better characterized as fractals.)  The following picture is from White Sands National Monument.
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(This particular submission to the challenge has a similar theme and is quite awesome!)

A third perspective that I considered was the shape of clouds.  When you have phenomenon like tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons, you have a circular motion of the clouds because of the winds that is very distinct and visible.  Sometimes you might even see such curvature at the macro level in a benign environment, as I did below.
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Here are two cases of curves in the context of animals.
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(As an aside, the eastern hognose snake shown above can play dead in its attempts to escape a predator.)

I could not resist a couple of pictures in which curves created by human beings seemed to blend well with the natural surroundings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
IMG_2382The second of these pictures is of the Monocacy Aqueduct on the C&O Canal towpath.

Finally here is a curve created by humans that is a national landmark here in the United States, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

I am finding this challenge somewhat broad. It seems like you can go in any direction with.  When something is pure it means that it has not been contaminated or adulterated by some external factor.  The contaminating or adulterating factor can also be completely vague, and can change within the context in which the term is being applied.  Pureness can be defined in the human context in many ways, and it can also be defined in the experiential context in many other ways.  Many examples can be found here.

Pureness can sometimes be seen in opposition to complexity, with an absence of factors that complicate your visualization of the subject.  It is sometimes associated with a certain simplicity of the subject matter.  With that in mind, here are some pictures with my interpretation of the theme.

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I am not sure if I have interpreted the theme of the challenge in a proper manner, and if so,  if the context in which the adjective “pure” is being used can be clearly expressed in words.  But that is all I have…

FYI, the first picture was taken at White Sands National Monument.  The rest of the pictures are generic.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

When I think about landscapes,  I think about the drama of the wide open spaces of Nature. My hope is to be able to capture this in pictures.  I also hope to be able to show the sometimes spectacular interaction between the skies and the earth.  I think of wide-angle shots and of panoramic viewing.   Here are some examples.

Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), New Zealand.
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Uluru, in the Australian Outback.
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Kata Tjuta, in the Australian Outback.
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In Senegal, not far from Dakar.
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White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
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The pictures above are probably best viewed when clicked-through.  Other submissions for the challenge can be seen here.

Unexpected Pleasures (Sept 10th, 2014)

One of the conversations I had with a high-school classmate during a reunion trip to New Mexico was regarding how much more accessible the outdoors have become here in the US since the days of our your youth when we came over from India.  It seems like there are many more parks and many more marked trails everywhere, created by all kinds of government and private entities, exposing us to more of the wonders of nature in the country.  It is a great thing!

But sometimes it is the unexpected that thrills the senses.  I was on my way to Cloudcroft, out of Alamagordo, driving up into the mountains on Route 82 from the high plains, when I came to a lookout point just before a tunnel.  This was a few miles away from Cloudcroft.  I could see White Sands behind me.
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The parking lot was empty except for this older couple who had come to the location on a motorbike.  The couple looked like a rough sort, and my first thought was caution.  (I was guilty of stereotyping!) But the woman was friendly.  She wished me hello and asked me if I had been on the trail.  I said I was not aware of the existence of a trail at this spot.  The gentleman then came up and told me about a trail that led from the lookout point down into the gorge between the hills where there was a stream flowing.  He said there were waterfalls.  He said that most people did not know about the trail, which was the best thing about this spot, and that he brought his grandchildren to the stream regularly.  Since I was being flexible in my schedule I decided that I would try the trail.  The gentleman told me that it started just beyond the lookout point, nearer to the tunnel, at a place where a black water pipe ran beside the road.  He then offered to walk up with me to show me the exact spot.  I grabbed my camera bag and followed.  When we arrived at the location of the pipe all I could see was a steep slope going down from the location of the pipe. I told myself that I was not going to give that slope a try today.  The gentleman laughed, saying that he would not attempt something like that at his age himself,  and then showed me a somewhat hidden trail leading off to the right, beside the road, on the other side of the guide rail.  He pointed to a cliff in the distance that the trail would pass and told me that there was a cave-like structure over there.  The cliff looked steep.  I was not convinced that would be passable but I was going to give it a shot.  I climbed over the guide rail and followed the unmarked trail.  Pretty soon I arrived at the cliff.  Indeed there was passable trail.
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Pretty soon I had descended the cliff and this is what I could see behind me.
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The parking lot seemed quite far away at the top of the cliffs, but in fact it had not taken me too long to get to this point.  Immediately in front of me was an opening into a shady wooded area.
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And there was indeed a stream flowing in the wooded area between the hills.
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I followed the stream to a series of very small waterfalls at the end of the trail.  I thought it was quite pretty.
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On the way back I took this picture.   It looked quite peaceful.
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During the walk back I also took my time to look at the flowers along the trail. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was just the beginning of a wonderful (though tiring) day.

And here is another picture of White Sands, a place I was was going to visit later that day.
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Here is another blog I wrote during the trip to New Mexico.