October 2016

October 2016 (5)

Saturday, 29 October 2016 11:54

Kiva Lines

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Chaco Canyon is special to me beyond words. It is a place that always evokes the twin feelings of awe and mystery, and the more we learn about the Chacoans and their culture, the more enigmatic they seem to become. It is quite possible, even likely, we of this time will never know the full story of their rise or of their demise. Even so, the awesome structures of their great houses, and Pueblo Bonito in particular, will continue to intrigue us and challenge our sense of who we believe we are and how unique we believe ourselves to be in the "modern" world. Wherever we arrive in our journey, Pueblo Bonito will always remind us that we were not the first in this land to dream great dreams, nor to suffer the consequences of those reveries. To be in Pueblo Bonito is to be humbled by history, or to admit, if we dare, that we are arrogant beyond salvation. This was what ran through my mind as I stood before the plaza of Pueblo Bonito and its array of kivas looking at the lines of mortered rock that formed the double wall between a pair of them, with a section of the ruin and the canyon wall behind. A focal length of 17mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 gave me a medium overall exposure. What happened here in the four centuries of Chacoan prominence is an important page in the great drama of humanity.

Thursday, 20 October 2016 21:12

Turmoil Over a Sleeping Ute

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 Seventy-two million years before the present, give or take a few, but not too many, igneous intrusions began welling up beneath what is now the east central region of the Colorado Plateau. The floor of the upwellings was fairly level and the upper portion was domed: a lacolith in geological terms. Eventually the overburdens of sandstone eroded away, as did large areas of the upwelling itself, until what remained seemed to resemble a reclining profile of a male First Peoples with his hands clasped over his chest in slumber. Stories gave him a name, the Sleeping Ute, since those were the people who lived there when the first Europeans arrived. And thus he remains, now part of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. On our way to Moab last year we encountered the Sleeping Ute under a sky full of turmoil and storm, and his quiet repose seemed to lie in stark contrast to the heavens above him. It was an opportunity not to be missed. A focal length of 45mm - quite normal - gave me the angle-of-view and magnification I wanted. An aperture of f/22 and a shutter speed of 1/30th second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly darker-than-medium overall exposure and it was fast enough to freeze some of the motion in the roiling clouds. Napping through a storm seems quite natural for some.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 07:13

Gifts of the Glacier

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When the glacial ice sheets retreated from Cape Cod, they left a dry depression in the land - a kettle - where a great block of ice had melted. Eventually, over millennia, as the rising seas lifted the fresh water table of the land, the depression began to fill with organic debris and water. Ultimately an area of peat, now 24' thick (deep) in places, became the character of the kettle; and beginning some 5000 years ago Atlantic white cedar began to colonize the Cape, wherever conditions invited them, about 4600 years ahead of the Pilgrims. Today the charming, peat-filled kettle is called the Alantic White Cedar Swamp, and a wonderful trail winds through its thickly-growing forest of beautiful trees. It is a challenge to express them photographically, but it is an exciting opportunity as well, and one that I have come to appreciate whenever I am here. A focal length of 84mm, short telephoto, allowed me to isolate a small slice of the larger whole that seemed to convey my feeling of the entire forest. An aperture of f/18 provided depth-of-field, but also allowed for a shutter speed of 4.0seconds at ISO 100. A smaller aperture/longer shutter speed was a concern because there was just enough of a breeze to create motion in the understory foliage, which I wished to avoid. Trees are a story of timelessness that is shared with anyone who listens.

Saturday, 08 October 2016 09:43

Morning Pete's

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I have been to Pete's Lake quite a few times over the past 14 years, and each occasion is a completely novel experience. From being shrouded in fog to a clarity that pierces the eye, Pete's is always a treat; and this year was certainly no exception. We were treated to perfectly still water and a sun that rose among cirrus and low stratus streamers reflecting perfectly on a surface that oozed a soft mist as the light grew stronger. There seemed to be so many possible expressions of the event, but the mirror image of the sky reflected in the lake was the one that really appealed to me. A focal length of 36mm, just barely beyond wide-angle, gave me the angle of view and the balance I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/10th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure. A sunrise at Morning Pete's is a wonderful way to start an UP day


Saturday, 01 October 2016 08:48

Straight and Narrow, Only Crooked

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If I photographed Bond Falls a thousand times, I would wish to photograph it a thousand more. The beautiful upper cataract on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River, surrounded by Ottawa National Forest, is always so captivating as to draw me back and to look for new ways to express its charm. It has been so for 14 years, and it was no different as we scouted the Upper Peninsula workshop about to begin. Even when the colorful reflections are not the subject there is much beauty here to lend itself to creative imagery. The answer to the obvious question is that there were lots of maple leaves scattered over the rock out of sight, and even though I did not place these, someone before me might well have done so - or Mother Nature could have been extremely helpful - whichever you prefer. I wanted to point my camera up the length of the stream, bringing in both sides as the bed receded in the background, but to emphasize the foreground drops for which this section of river is known. The rock ledges became lines to lead the eye into the interior of the image, and the leaves were just nice colorful extras. A focal length of 60mm provided the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/13 at ISO 100 gave me a shutter speed of 1/4th second (and a medium overall exposure). The chosen shutter speed allowed me to express the flow of the whitewater as somewhat silky, but not overly so; and the chosen aperture - with the camera-to-subject distance - provided the depth-of-field I needed. The beauty of Bond is always compelling, from any angle.

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