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Friday, 27 November 2015 00:00

Never Far From the Tree

Three weeks ago I shared an Image of a single cottonwood leaf at the edge of a small waterpocket in the upper slickrock in Zion National Park. This week I want to share with you the image that first attracted my eye when I initially reached the bottom of the wash. The single leaf came with some exploration. This, of course, is a wide-angle landscape, whereas the other was most certainly an intimate landscape of a very small portion of the scene you see here. Perhaps you prefer one to the other; I do not. For me they are just different ways of "seeing" the same world. Here, just as in the intimate scene, I was very conscious of camera location and perspective, of element relationship and arrangement, of angle-of-view and especially what was included and excluded. I also waited for a small passing cloud to reduce as much contrast as it would. So often it's all of the various ways you can engage the process of communicating what you have seen that make for your creativity in the visual world. I encourage you to never believe there is only a single way of seeing what is around you. A focal length of 35mm gave me the angle of view I wanted (anything shorter would have been too much information for me). An aperture of f/20 provided depth of field; and a shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Don't stop looking until you are sure there is nothing left to see; and then look one more time just for good measure.

Saturday, 21 November 2015 00:00

Late Light in La Sal Country

They seem when experienced separately to be completely different worlds - the twisted sedimentary red rock of Arches National Park and the volcanic-spawned heights of the La Sal Mountains and Manti-La Sal National Forest - but they are so much more related than you might imagine. The sedimentary layers of this portion of the Colorado Plateau range in age from 250+ million years before the present (BP) to 66 million years BP, while the igneous uplifts of the La Sals date to a mere 25-28 million years BP; yet it seems obvious that the rising igneous blister sent warping waves through the surrounding sediments that can still be seen in the directional cant of the red rock. In the late light of the setting sun, the La Sals take on a warm glow that is echoed tonally by the roseate hoodoos in the Windows District of Arches. A long telephoto focal length allowed me to pull the mountains closer to create a relationship separated, in truth, by miles of red rock. A focal length of 405mm allowed the magnification and angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds at ISO 100 gave me a medium exposure. A gathering storm set the mood.

Thursday, 12 November 2015 00:00

As Far As the Eye Can See

From Dead Horse Point in Dead Horse Point State Park the sinuous path of the Colorado River, as it cuts its way through Canyonlands National Park, is a winding maze of beauty. To be on the Point on a relatively haze-free morning with broken clouds overhead and an unobstructed sunrise is to behold one of the most awesome sights in nature. In addition to the magic of the light creating marvelous contrasts, it is a study in shape and line. My biggest task was to determine the parameters of the scene, so that what I included was meaningful and allowed for the creation of appropriate relationships among the elements of the composition. The small side-lit juniper on the left became a yin-yang element to the highlighted portion of the image on the right; the solid rock of the foreground shelf in the bottom left corner offered a textural contrast to the broken canyonlands of the upper right; and there were other sets of relations that had, also, to be considered. A focal length of 20mm allowed for the inclusion of the scene I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth of field and a shutter speed of 0.4 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-darker-than-medium exposure.

Saturday, 07 November 2015 00:00

A Drama in Cottonwood and Slickrock

The Upper Slickrock of Zion National Park is an incredible maze of towering Navajo Sandstone monuments and mesas cut by narrow and sometimes deeply incised watercourses that hold pockets of run-off which nourish the micro-environments of cottonwood, gamble oak, sawtooth maple, rabbitbrush, Indian paintbrush, and others that flourish there. Gravity at work here ultimately sends everything it can to the Virgin River more than a thousand feet below. The Upper Slickrock is an amazing place for creative effort. In early November the beautiful yellows of the cottonwoods carpet the floors of the watercourses and in a passing storm, leaves come down by the thousands to swim in the pools that await them. As the skies clear, what is reflected are the shades of blue mingled with the leaves that still cling to trees overhead. I wanted to isolate a single leaf, submerged, or partly so, in a shallow pool. I knew that in open shade, the camera's sensor would more readily "see" the blue on the edges of the water, and I chose my settings so as to render the single leaf sharply focused while showing the reflected leaves with just sufficient detail to create a sense of their presence. The warm tones of the sand added just the color contrast I was seeking, and the small, gritty pebbles added context. A focal length of 262mm isolated the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 allowed me to choose my point of focus and depth-of-field carefully; and a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly lighter-than-medium exposure. The absolute stillness of the air allowed for the shutter speed I mentioned, since the surface tension of the water was not a problem for that shutter duration.

Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

The Waterfall at the End of the Canyon

It exists as a hidden microcosm to a surrounding world so different that it is almost impossible to see how the two could co-exist. In the midst of an alien desert world of Navajo Sandstone and Red Rock, Lower Calf Creek Falls, at the end of a three-mile walk up Calf Creek Canyon, is a 130' plunge into a swimming pool lined with sand. Navajo Sandstone began 180 million years ago as towering, fine-grained dunes that eventually became cemented into solid rock containing microscopic voids that allow for seepage of water downward. The water eventually collects in the depressions, joining in ever-widening flows until a stream is borm. Calf Creek's year-round run drops off the slickrock into a eden-like garden of wonder leaving a waterfall of delight in its path. There are many ways to express the beauty of Lower Calf Creek Falls, but I wanted to showcase the entire plunge from lip to pool. Since I wanted the falls to appear large in the image, I used a focal length of 42mm to include all of the drop, but I did not include the entire pool, which would have required a shorter focal lengthand rendered the falls smaller. I tilted up so as to include a small portion of the sky seen above the lip. The overall dynamic range of the image was such that the sky's lightness did not ovcome the more shaded area below the falls. An aperture of f/11 allowed for depth-of-field, but more importantly, it allowed for a faster shutter speed to slow the motion of the rapidly moving water. A shutter speed of 1/5th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

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