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Sunday, 20 July 2014 00:00

The Guardian

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I have had the good fortune to visit a number of places on my journey that can best be described as spiritual: places in whose presence I have felt a special sense of awe, humility, and gratitude; and in whose beauty I am rendered speechless. Within Canyon X in Northern Arizona there is a place where the presence of spirit is keenly felt, and this place is attended by a lithic being who is known only as "The Guardian." To see The Guardian is to feel that where you are is watched over by the great forces of the world, a place where beauty is supreme and all who respect beauty are welcome. Though The Guardian is at one with the rock from which it flows, it exists unto itself and the contrasts of tone, shape, and form give rise to its presence. My thanks to my friend, Charly Moore, for allowing me to share it with you. A focal length of 450mm allowed me to isolate the figure against the surrounding strata of stone so that I could highlight the shape and tonal contrasts as the light poured in from above. An aperture of f/10 gave sufficient depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 20 seconds at ISO 100 gave a slightly lighter-than-medium overall exposure.

Read 5235 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 August 2014 08:22


  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Monday, 21 July 2014 17:11 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Jessyca and Robert. Thank you both for joining me. Being in Canyon X, or any of a number of similar places is to feel like you can reach out and touch - and indeed you can - the wonder of the primordial forces which have shaped our world; and in that touching to feel the spirit which flows through those forces as they undertake their transforming actions. Texture is the gift we receive from what they do, as you have so rightly suggested.

  • Comment Link Jessyca Stansbury- McCargo Monday, 21 July 2014 09:25 posted by Jessyca Stansbury- McCargo

    Beautiful. I truly love where and how the light enhances the textures of the rock. Congratulations Don, another stunner.

  • Comment Link Bob Grytten Monday, 21 July 2014 08:14 posted by Bob Grytten

    Wow, what a Capture! The detail, up close & personal, I feel like I could reach out and feel the texture. Thanks, Don

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Sunday, 20 July 2014 17:54 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Helen, thank you very much for joining us. Even though the way we think about exposure has changed somewhat with the evolution of digital technology, the way we understand the mechanics of the exposure process has not changed much since the advent of SLR film cameras. If you acquire an understanding of that process, it will make your journey as a creative photographer infinitely richer. Thanks for your kind words.

  • Comment Link Helen Sunday, 20 July 2014 14:22 posted by Helen

    Marvelous. Marvelous. Your ability to get the correct camera settings inspires me each week. Thanks for posting your photos.

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Sunday, 20 July 2014 12:16 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Tari, thanks for joining us and for those kind words. I think the thing is that nature always humbles me even when I can't see its face and even more so when I can; and I do feel blessed to have been shown a path that allows me to stay connected with the natural world in such a deep way. And I suspect that you feel this connection as well, so your words are much appreciated.

  • Comment Link tari federer Sunday, 20 July 2014 10:49 posted by tari federer

    What a humbling image. The Ancient One takes my breath away. The elders have blessed you, Don.

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Sunday, 20 July 2014 10:35 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Nancy T., it's always good to hear from you. You are absolutely right, it was very humbling and inspiring. Part of the beauty of Canyon X is that there are wonderful places throughout where color changes occur,sometimes because of differences in stratigraphy and sometimes because of staining. I'm glad you enjoyed The Guardian's presence.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 20 July 2014 10:20 posted by Nancy Tripp

    WoW! Very strong vibes coming from this one! Just being there must have been a humbling experience. The color change on the face is amazing. Beautifully done! Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Sunday, 20 July 2014 10:09 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi BJ, thanks for joining us. I appreciate your kind words. There were several possibilities for addressing the focal length, and thus the framing, of the image. This one turned out to be my favorite because it accomplished a tight presentation of the face, while at the same time offering enough of the surrounding rock to create an interesting tonal contrast, as well as enough of the environment of the face to provide context.

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Sunday, 20 July 2014 10:03 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Dorsey, it's always good to hear from you. I had not thought about The Guardian in comparison to the Old Man of the Mountain; but you are right, being protected (and being in the desert) may provide a longevity not possible for the Old Man... His essence came from being granite as opposed to sandstone, but being open to the elements was certainly a liability. I feel fortunate to have captured him before his demise. Your observation about the light on the face of The Guardian is well-taken. The other aspect of coloration here is that, for whatever reason, there is a stain of desert varnish on this part of the canyon wall. The two aspects together create a definite tonal differential about the face.

  • Comment Link B J Hayes Sunday, 20 July 2014 09:58 posted by B J Hayes

    Don this is award wining. I like the way you have shown the tonal aspects and also the way the image is framed.

  • Comment Link Dorsey Davis Sunday, 20 July 2014 09:45 posted by Dorsey Davis

    It is easy to see how the ancient peoples could feel like a power from the spirit world lived here. Very interesting is how the light gives the face a different color than the rest of the canyon walls. Being protected for the most part from the elements, perhaps it will last longer than the old man of the mountain in NH.

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