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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.

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11 comments

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Saturday, 16 May 2020 10:57 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. Thank you all very much for joining me for this conversation. I apologize for being a bit late getting to the task. Bonnie and I left home about 6:30 on Friday morning and had an adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Craggy Gardens to Cherokee, just a shade over a hundred miles by road. It was a beautiful day as days go, but much too much on the contrasty side to be really productive. Graveyard Fields is just coming in, as is Haywood Gap; and Lickstone Ridge has some beautiful hardwoods just below the road. Lots of second-wave ephemerals: daisy fleabane, yellow ragwort, wood betony, buttercups-hairy and tall, wild strawberry and dwarf cinquefoil. By the end of the day, my foot/ankle knew it had been challenged, but it was a wonderful adventure.
    What an interesting collection of observations we have to consider.
    Hey John. It's always good to hear from you. I hope your spring has been beautiful and you have had some opportunities for adventuring. Thanks for your kind comment. You would, I believe, really love this place.
    Hi Ray. I really love your description of the role and value of our public lands, as long as we value and care for them in return. We have to constantly remind and challenge ourselves to remember them and never take them for granted. It always reminds me of John Adams' letter to Abigail while he was in London during the Revolution regarding the reasoning behind his seemingly incessant writing to her about studying "politics and war." I thank you for all the work you do on our behalf to make the forests of our land treasures we will always have. Your reminder of the use of aerial perspective in imagery is also timely and well-taken.
    Hi Rosemary. Thank you, as always, for joining us. Toes on a left foot, indeed; and with a very high instep to go with them. There are a few trails in the Unkar Creek area: Cliff Spring and Cape Royal are a couple of them, and the Cape Final Trail, one of my favorites, is not far away along Cape Royal Road. Cave Spring ties into other trails that will take you back to the lodge on the North Rim.
    Howdy Michael. Your gift for metaphor and description never cease to amaze me. I hope all is well with you. I would like nothing better than to stand along the North Rim with you discussing the various aspects of the landscape images we would see before us. What great and creative fun we would have. The aerial perspective in this image was a gift of the late afternoon light filtering into the lower canyon at low angle and fading as it reached the high ground where we stood. Be well and safe, my friend; there are too many beautiful images left to share.
    Hey Donald. It's great to hear from you. I hope your keen desire for adventures has also kept you safe wherever you are. In one way or another, you, Ray, and Michael have described for us the magic of aerial perspective. It's a compositional idea that is sadly too often neglected for other aspects of a scene. Your foreground-to-background description is spot on, and note that aerial perspective can be gained with various focal lengths, not limited to wide-angle.
    Hey Win. Thanks very much for your kind words. I am thrilled that you continue to appreciate the work I do. I hope we can find a way to include you in our upcoming book group rendezvous on Monday. Let me know if I can be helpful in any way. Be well and safe.
    Hey Karen. I am honored that this image could speak to you, especially on Mother's Day and pleased to know that you join us without comment. Thank you for taking the time to respond to this offering and for your kind words about my healing. May you remain safe and well as we go forward.
    Ah, J. Warren, If anyone might appreciate the spiritual essence of this land, it would be you! I hope you and Freda are well and safe. We look forward to seeing both of you when it's safe to travel once again. In thin king about your idea of taking flight to appreciate the visual grandeur of this place, I'm going to send you a link to a video entitled Remembered Land which begins with a quote from N. Scott Momaday. I know you'll love it.
    Hey Kev. There is nothing I like more than seeing you be excited about our 2021 Southwest adventure. You are loving this land as much as J. Warren Berry, and that's an accomplishment. I hope you and Elizabeth continue to be safe and in good health. When I looked down that valley, the first thing I saw was that wonderful, lazy S-curve leading me to the end of the canyon and the river. What a treat it will be for me to share this place with you. Walk in Beauty, my friend.
    Hi Nancy T. I am humbled just standing quietly along the rim, reflecting on the Old Ones who have gone before, and the emotions they must have felt every time they gazed into this chasm and felt their lives moving in rhythm to the flow of the seasons and run of the river. Their spirits guide me as I move here. I'm still planning on sharing this place with you in 2021. Take good care, Dear One.
    In the Desert Southwest there are many places of astonishing beauty, filled with deep and abiding emotion, but there are none that seem to hold the esteem that the Grand Canyon offers. It brings tears of joy to my eyes. May you all continue to thrive during this trying period, and may we all reach the other side filled with creative possibilities.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Tuesday, 12 May 2020 19:55 posted by Nancy Tripp

    This is so beautifully epic! It is an adventure just to gaze at it. Your composition shows so much depth with all the temp changes and the river snaking through it. It had to be a humbling experience just figuring where to place the tripod. Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Kevin Desrosiers Monday, 11 May 2020 12:41 posted by Kevin Desrosiers

    Another stunning image! I like how you framed the scene with the trees in the foreground and took us through the scene with an "S" curve. Now you are getting me excited about our journey through the west in 2021.

  • Comment Link jwarrenberry Sunday, 10 May 2020 19:00 posted by jwarrenberry

    Such a beautiful land. Looking it gives feelings of seeing Nature’s grandeur, traveling through it seeing it “up close,” and wishing I could be an eagle soaring past in a few minutes what we could gaze at for hours. Thank you for sharing such beauty that it elicits strong emotions. There is truly beauty all around...

  • Comment Link Karen Geiken Sunday, 10 May 2020 17:46 posted by Karen Geiken

    Exquisite exposure Don! I follow your inspirations weekly but have rarely taken the time to respond. This scene is a wonderful Mother's Day gift! I am so glad to hear that your health is being restored!

  • Comment Link Win Southworth Sunday, 10 May 2020 15:36 posted by Win Southworth

    Am continuing to be astounded by the magic of your photographer's eye. This is yet another of your many very best compositions. A "toast" to you & Bonnie and your continuing photographic exploits!

  • Comment Link Donald Newsom Sunday, 10 May 2020 13:48 posted by Donald Newsom

    What a strong image and lesson in composition all rolled up into one! I admire the brilliant foreground framing, leading with softening color and receding line into the beyond.

  • Comment Link Mike Di Stefano Sunday, 10 May 2020 12:20 posted by Mike Di Stefano

    Howdy Don, you have such a great eye for landscapes. Love the colorful sharp foreground vegetation vs the soft background mountains. And all the layers of depth in your composition. I can imagine myself standing there beside you take in the nature’s beauty.

  • Comment Link Rosemary Benson Sunday, 10 May 2020 11:15 posted by Rosemary Benson

    Looks like toes of the left foot! Doubt if I’ll ever get to see it in person. Are there trails there?

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 10 May 2020 10:05 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, your image and brief history are reminders of the many many layers these special, public, and fragile lands hold for us. Their past wells up in stories; their present gives us the delight of beauty, geology, and experiences. Their future? TBD. And, speaking of layers, I really like how your image is most vivid (color-wise) closest to us, then less so in the mid-ground, and quite pale far off. Sort of like our own experiences, right? Ray

  • Comment Link John D. Roach Sunday, 10 May 2020 09:34 posted by John D. Roach

    Beautiful Composition and scene.

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