Saturday, 26 January 2019 16:30

Watering the Desert

Just east of where the Continental Divide slips through Stony Pass in the Colorado Rockies, from the small seepages pulled by gravity from the slopes of Canby Mountain, a stream is born that, in time and distance, will gather many other streams on its way east and south before flowing into the Gulf of Mexico on the oriental side of Brownsville, Texas, 1,885 river miles away. For many of those miles it will form the international border between the United States and Mexico, but as its route flows duely north-south through the high desert of New Mexico, passing west of Taos, it drops through a great gorge formed in the rift valley of the San Luis Basin. As the river emerges from the gorge, it moves along rather quietly among low sandstone walls lined with cottonwoods and rabbit brush. When the Ancestral Puebloan people abandoned Chaco, Mesa Verde, and the canyon dwellings of Cedar Mesa, many of them found their way to pueblos already established near the long crawl of the Rio Grande. It is a great desert highway filled with culture and history much older that the settlements of Jamestown or Plymouth.

A focal length of 48mm, quite normal, gave me the intimate angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 gave me a medium overall exposure. The highlights and shadows were neither so bright nor so deep that the exposure was blown out, or blocked up, on either end of the range.

The mighty Rio Grande leads us on a journey through time and teaches us that even in the desert life can find water to sustain itself. 

Friday, 18 January 2019 14:36

Eye to Eye With a Partiarch

Turning up canyon on Floor of the Valley Road from Canyon Junction, the first trolley stop you come to (after Canyon Junction) is Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. If you can convince yourself to climb a bit higher up the somewhat steep hillside behind and above the overlook, you reach a vista from where, looking across to the opposing canyon wall, you are nearly face-to-face with the magnificent visages of the Court of the Patriarchs. And if you can manage to arrive just before the first light filters into Zion Canyon from over the slickrock behind me to the East, you may find a real treat of a lightshow staring back at you as the awesome Navajo Sandstone gathers and reflects the coming rays.

A focal length of 255mm narrowed my angle-of-view and magnified the great walls a bit. An aperture of f/14, given the camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 20.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. Including the tip of the shaded hill on my side of the canyon, with the settings just mentioned, allowed the hill to be nearly a silhouette, the contrast serving as an anchor for the bottom of the image.

We are loving this amazing park to death. New regulations on the use of tripods have made a photographer's work more challenging. I am grateful to have been able to visit often when movement was much easier; still Zion remains a great favorite.

 

Saturday, 12 January 2019 15:11

Caramel Icing on Sandstone

The study of the history and geomorphology of planet Earth is not only fascinating beyond words, it can provide wonderful clues into the discovery of locations where intriguing images can be found. When Bonnie and I did our hike into GSENM's (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) Calf Creek Canyon to gaze at the majesty of Lower Calf Creek Falls, we knew we would be hiking among the depths of 1000-foot-deep petrified dunes of Navajo Sandstone, which overlayed the creamy-orange marmalade of the Kayenta and Wingate formations. So we were anticipating some geologic visual treats, but as we went deeper into the canyon we began to understand how geologically special it is. In places, the Wingate walls seemed to be covered with a patina icing - streaked oxides - covering the deposits laid down in the Middle Jurassic, when the Sauropoda, the largest animals that have ever lived on land, walked the Earth.

A focal length of 420mm from the trail on the opposing canyon wall gave me the magnification and angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of field, and a shutter speed of 1/4th second at ISO 100 with the motionless wall gave me a slightly-darker-than-mediun exposure.

GSENM - the entire original monument and then some -  deserves our protection. It should be studied and loved and preserved for the amazing place it truly is; it is, indeed, sacred.

Saturday, 05 January 2019 14:24

The Light That Dances

Photographic detours can be wonderful adventures. Bonnie and I left the quiet town of Salida, Colorado on our way to the airport in Denver, having decided to follow the Arkansas River to its headwater streams north of Leadville. Then on the spur of the moment, we decided to take old US 6 across Loveland Pass. A mere 10' shy of an even 12,000', Loveland sits astride the Continental Divide along the Front Range. Looking south and southeast across a field of mountain lupine (Lupinus argenteus), we could follow the line of the Divide across the mountains to the rocky face of Grizzly Peak as the light played hopscotch across the slopes.

A focal length of 26mm, mid-wideangleland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. 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.

Once again I am reminded of Gibran's beautiful words: "Verily all things move within your being in constant half-embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape. These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter to a greater freedom." ~Kahlil Gibran~

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