Archives

Welcome to the archives of prevoius Image for the Asking selections.

Click on a month, at left, to see the images for that month.

Saturday, 23 May 2020 10:02

Mesa to Wash to Ridge

One of the most beautiful transition zones I have ever come across in my wanderings is found in Southeastern Utah where the slickrock eastern edge of Cedar Mesa transitions to the wide, flat cottonwood-covered expanse of Comb Wash, before running head on into the nearly vertical and scree slope-dressed wall of Comb Ridge. The scree wall is mostly of the Chinle Formation, while above it there is Wingate Sandstone, covered by Keyenta Sandstone, and capped by the ubiquitous Navajo Sandstone, a mere 185 million years young. What appears as a diagonal trace across the face of the right wall of the ridge is the rock-blasted road cut of County Road 229, the original dirt route through Comb Ridge eastward toward Monticello and Blanding. At the top of the ridge, 229 intersects the Posey Trail Road another historical route running through the rocks.

A focal length of 292mm (195mm x 1.5 crop sensor) gave me the magnification and angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field from the camera-to-subject distance; and a shutter speed of 1/10 second in late afternoon light at ISO 100 gave me a very slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

The eighty-mile-long fold in the earth that Comb Ridge gives us is a geological and cultural treasure. It was into this area that many of the expatriates of Chaco ultimately migrated in the years following the decline of the Chacoan period of Ancestral Puebloan history.

Saturday, 16 May 2020 14:11

The Appalachians of Spring

Because they are some of the very oldest of their kind on Earth, the Southern Appalachians have had more practice being mountains than just about all of the others. One of the decisions they made a very long time ago was that they would excel in the production of flowering species; and, indeed, they have. More than 1500 such beings live just in the Great Smoky Mountains alone. In May in the upper elevations (5000-6500'), one of the most striking of floral displays is the delicate smooth shadbush, or serviceberry, or sarvis, if you happen to be a senior-aged mountain person, tree (Amelanchier laevis). Often the display reaches the tops of the high ridges about the same time the green-up arrives. In this case, this past Friday.

A focal length of 56mm, just beyond normal-land, gave me the angle of view I wanted, to include the valley between Lickstone Ridge and Bunches Bald (behind me) and parts of the Soco Creek watershed beyond. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 allowed me to freeze the motion of the slight breeze and to achieve an overall medium exposure.

As a propriety matter, the land within this Image is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and while the Tsalagi certainly wish to develop their lands to the comfort of all of their citizens, one can't help but note the naturally unsullied nature of the scene, which is another tribal wish, that the land of their ancestors remain as pristine and unblemished as possible. When it comes to public lands, perhaps we should take a cue from the Tsalagi.

Saturday, 09 May 2020 13:25

Unkar by Any Other Name

The Paiute word is unkar or an-kar, or aka-ga-ri, which means red, or red creek, or red stone. Between 850 and 1200 A.D. Ancestral Puebloans traveled seasonally between the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the delta where Unkar Creek finds and flows into the mighty Colorado River. Within the broad footprint of the delta,  no fewer than ten Ancestral Puebloan sites can be found, and on the rim a small pueblo ruin on the Walhalla Plateau, in Walhalla Glades, marks the spot where some of those ancient ones passed the summer months before returning to the depths of the canyon for winter. The canyon of Unkar Creek, carved out of time and red rock is a special place, where late-afternoon light ricochets off layered walls and the silent presence of history is deafening.

A focal length of  52mm, normal-land, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 200 gave me an overall medium exposure and stillness in the foreground pine needles in the slight updrafting currents.

There are so many places in the canyon that are not necessarily characterized by the drama of sheer walls, yet whose geologic wonder is apparent. Our obligation to preserve the entirety of this wonder from all degradation, including the extractive industries, should be very clear.

Saturday, 02 May 2020 15:37

If the Fremont Had a Capitol

A thousand years ago the Fremont People, a culture contemporaneous with the Ancestral Puebloans, lived in what is now Capitol Reef National Park. The amazing redrock of that part of the Colorado Plateau is a land of uplifts and canyons. Water is a scarce commodity. The waters of Sulphur Creek slip southward off the shoulder of Thousand Lake Mountain, over in Fish Lake National Forest, before turning eastward behind the long arc of the Waterpocket Fold. Sulphur slides beneath the jagged uplifts of The Castle, the great prominence that is the park's geologic icon. In the old Mormon pioneer settlement of Fruita, the slit-laden waters of the creek merge quietly with those of the Fremont River and continue another ninety miles to the sparse town of Hanksville, where, in meeting the aptly named Muddy Creek, the Dirty Devil River is born, whose eighty-mile journey ends in the backbays of Lake Powell and the mighty Colorado. The hardy pioneers of the Latter Day Saints nourished their bountiful fruit orchards with the waters of Sulphur Creek, and one hundred and forty years thence, those trees still bring forth fruit in due season.

A focal length of 33mm, just inside of wide-angleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted to share. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.5 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

Capitol Reef has become one of my favorite landscapes in the Southwest. It's stark contrasts and scarce diversity remind me that the beauty of the natural world is always at work, constantly reinventing itself anew. We need its stubborn fierceness to feed the hunger in our souls, that tiny, still voice reminding us we are alive.

 

 

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