Aztec Caves (with a fisheye lens)

This hike is rated online anywhere from “easy” to “difficult.” I’ll go with moderate, in that case. The footing is unsteady, but I made it up with my six-year-old kiddo.

Looking down the trail.
Looking down the trail.

I think I would have made it up the mountain faster if I weren’t six months pregnant at the time. Luckily, there were a number of places to stop and rest.

I took these with a fisheye lens. I was exploring how that kind of lens might be used in landscape photography. Overall, I really liked it.

Looking up towards the caves.
Looking up towards the caves.

Since it’s a very wide angle lens, it did a great job of taking in panoramic views. Also, it was fun to distort the inside of the caves. The two below were my favorites from that series.

Exposed for the view inside the cave.
Exposed for the view inside the cave.
Exposed for the view outside the cave.
Exposed for the view outside the cave.

Fisheye Lens and Flowers

I took a trip with my kiddo this weekend. I asked him if he wanted to visit the mountains or the beach. He chose the mountains, so off we headed to El Paso.

For the first time ever, I rented a lens…a fisheye lens. Of all things! I wanted to see what I could do with the distortion that kind of lens creates.

I took the one below of a blooming palo verde tree in Concordia Cemetery. It’s not as in focus as I would like. To be fair to myself, this was taken the first hour I was working with the lens. I have to remember that this is all a learning process!

fisheyeflower4

I also tried out its capacity for close-up pictures of individual flowers. I really like how these turned out. You can see the whole background, but it is oddly blurry and bent. To me, it offers some interest to the background detail while keeping it from competing with the main image.

Ocatillo flower on the Franklin Mountains
Ocatillo flower on the Franklin Mountains

In one of my photography books, an author is bothered by the darkening of the corners of photos when using very wide angle lens. I find the effect sort of charming, like a vignette effect or something. It’s not something I would change in the editing process. Here’s an example of that vignetting on the upper corners of this picture of a globe mallow:

fisheye-flower2

And here’s another pretty flower from the Concordia Cemetery.

fisheyeflower3

B-36 Crash Site (El Paso) [I didn’t locate it this trip.]

If you are looking for the coordinates of the site, visit http://www.franklinmountainsflora.com/trails.php?trailid=9.  I wish I had done that before heading out.

On December 11, 1953 @ 2:37 PM, a B-36 Bomber crashed into the Franklin Mountains in El Paso while attempting to land in snowy conditions. Nine crewmembers serving out country died in the tragic accident. I have always respected the bravery of our armed forces. Lord knows I don’t have what it takes to do the job. I sometimes meet Fort Bliss folks on my flights out to El Paso, and they are always amazing. If all Americans could be a little more like them, I know our country would be a better place.  These are people who do more than put their money where there mouth is. They place their lives on the line to ensure our very existence.

We have a duty to nourish a society that so many brave people have died protecting. This means we need to focus on improving this country. A society worth protecting is one that provides for the most vulnerable among us. As a civil servant, I have to be careful about posting anything vaguely political. However, I think that if we all came from the same place that our service members do (a desire to protect and serve the nation) things would be different. They face brutality and war. They give their lives to make sure we can keep our nation alive, goddammit. And we bitch about taxes.  It’s something worth thinking about.

***

I set out to investigate the site. I relied on blogs alone to direct me to the location of what remains of the wreckage. On my first trip up the mountainside, I went to the wrong peak. Before my second trip up the mountain, I made sure to check out some blog posts on how to find the area. Unfortunately, I ran out of steam before I could reach the location. Also, without a GPS to locate the precise coordinates, I don’t think I will be able to find the remains.

I’ll try again on another trip. Next time, I will be more prepared (GPS, better clothing, water). I’m kinda impulsive, so I didn’t plan my trip up the mountain as well as I should have. While climbing down a ravine, I almost fell. I have some pretty ugly owies as a result. I must tell everyone that this kind of hike is not for the faint of heart or inexperienced. It is imperative to have good balance and an understanding of how to climb on unstable earth. It is treacherous territory.

Mere physical fitness isn’t sufficient protection. You need to know your limits. Stopping when you reach your limit (as I did) is not failure. It is success, for you have pushed yourself to your max and did something awesomely fun! You can always get better from there. Either way, you’ve burned a ton of calories and gotten a great workout. So stop before you break an ankle and require a rescue.  Or worse.

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I think some utility lawyers just jumped for joy/peed themselves over the power line pics I got. That’s fine. As a health care atty, I am in full meltdown right now over the AIM testing breach.