Friday, 23 February 2018 10:59

Designing Bisti

The Desert Southwest is an amazing and wonderful place, and nowhere in the desert is this more evident than in the geological wonderland called Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, a small wilderness of 45,000 acres, cobbled together from two even smaller contiguous tracts, Bisti and De-Na-Zin. This badland is nature's design at the peak of its creativity, and it is essential to be mindful so that nothing is overlooked, nor passed by. It is such mindfulness that leads to the everyday beauty that fills the eroded forms of Bisti from the highest strata above you to the rain-washed dirt at your feet, a soil so darkened gray that you might be tempted to believe that here the earth itself once caught fire and burned to ash. What water as does arrive in Bisti, unless it merely evaporates, leaves through an interlocking series of washes, and when the water has gone, the remaining dirt shows the intricacy of Nature's written language, the intricate cuneiform of a desert streambed.

Hiking the edge of one of Bisti's washes, I spotted this design in the place where the water sometimes flows. A focal length of 110mm from about 3.5' above the soil gave me the angle-of-view I wanted and a bit of magnification. An aperture of f/22 gave me depth-of-field and sharpness edge-to-edge; and a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

The dimpled outlines of small droplets of evaporated rain gave an additional sense of texture to a surface that already seemed interesting in its delicately eroded appearance.

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