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Saturday, 07 March 2020 16:43

One Day Past New

When the sun sets in Chaco Canyon, it lights up the western flank of that sacred, Cretaceous sandstone remnant, Fajada Butte, a fairly spectacular sight all by itself.

Nearly 180 degrees away from Fajada, on the day following the new moon, the Syzygy (new moon) for all you astronomy folks, the moon reappears as a thin crescent, low above the western horizon. To experience both of these lightshows is the conclusion of a Chaco day at its finest.

A focal length of 247mm, medium telephoto-land, gave me some magnification and compression (It was a flat scene already), and the angle-of-view I wanted, with the moon and last bit of color from the setting sun. An aperture of f/16 provided all of the depth-of-field I needed, and a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds at ISO 100 gave me a somewhat darker-than-medium exposure. The fastest shutter speed I could imagine achieving, given the constraints of depth-of-field and camera noise, was about 1/16 second (ISO 400, f/11); and since 1/16th second would not "freeze" the movement of the moon substantially "better" than 2.5 seconds, I chose to reduce the noise in the image by using ISO 100. Exposures are always about problem-solving, and generally there are at least two solutions.

Chaco is sacred space and the BLM continues to threaten the greater Chaco area with new rounds of lease-auctioning which could negatively impact thousand-year-old sandstone walls. Please join in the work to protect this special place. 

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8 comments

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 13 March 2020 22:02 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good evening Everyone. Thank you all very much for joining me for this conversation; and I say that understanding full-well that it is no mean feat for you to have done so, considering the turmoil in which our country (and, indeed, the entire planet) finds itself in this moment. Aside from committing ourselves to taking the best care possible of self and each other, continuing to commit to the appreciation of beauty in our world is one of the truths that will sustain us.
    Hey Kev. Thanks for being with me. It was great having you and Elizabeth with us this past week. Glad that your trip home was pleasant and safe. There is a good rule of thumb that I nearly always apply to deciding how much sky to include in a frame and to collapse it down to its essential, it goes like this: I look at my proposed image and ask myself, "How much weight does this sky merit in this image - 90%, 50%, 10%; how much? And I start with that and adjust as needed. In this Image, given the dark foreground and the neat clouds I had to work with, it seemed that the sky deserved a great percentage of the total frame. You are quite correct: some ground was also necessary, but here it seemed that just enough to provide an interesting "anchor" was the right amount. Both excellent points of consideration; thanks for bringing them to our attention. I thought the cool-blue-to-warm-orange tonal change was an interesting touch; thanks for noticing.
    Hi Ray. It's great to hear from you, as always. I was very appreciative that the landscape over which the sun was setting offered such interesting topography as an accompaniment. Once you grasp the significance of the exposure trade-offs you have at your disposal a repertoire of choices that can shape the ultimate outcome of your creation. Even when there is abundant light and the choice seems clear, there is always a consideration that should be studied, just for the sake of the knowledge it offers. Walk in Beauty, my friend.
    Hey Linda. It's certainly good to hear from you. I hope all is well in Ashfield. I very much appreciate your kind words. You have given me something for which to strive. I hope we get to see you somewhere down the road.
    Hi Nancy T. Your story, as always, brings a smile of gratefulness and satisfaction. It is the story of relationship and the outcome of relationship done well: earth to sky, sky to moon. moon to earth; and from all of this a circle, a wholeness, which gives rise to calmness and peace. Thank you for that, for leading us to that place.
    Hi Hinda. It's really good to have you join us for this conversation. I hope you have been well, and I am grateful that I could bring you a smile to wear. Walk in Beauty.
    Hey Ron. It's always great to have you join us. I am honored by your kind and thoughtful comment. The New England spring will be with us shortly. I hope you will find many opportunities to get out and enjoy it. Be well.
    Ah Patricia, we stand together where we have always stood: in the center of the world, within the great circle of life. May it always be so. Have a wonderful adventure in Death Valley, and we'll see you in June.
    Thank you all, again, for such a wonderful sharing of thought and expression. You all make me eternally grateful for what I do as a vocation. Everything you share with me and with each other serves to expand my creative being and to show me the natural world with clearer eyes. May we all walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link Pat Crutchfield Sunday, 08 March 2020 23:44 posted by Pat Crutchfield

    A powerful image and an empowering message, Don. I stand with you in solidarity.

    Pat

  • Comment Link Ron Belovitz Sunday, 08 March 2020 23:21 posted by Ron Belovitz

    Nice image Don. If I had shot it it'd be framed and hanging on one of my walls.

  • Comment Link Hinda Berkelhammer Sunday, 08 March 2020 14:32 posted by Hinda Berkelhammer

    The image just made me smile. Earth’s relation to the sky! Lovely!

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 08 March 2020 12:49 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Solitude! Everything and everyone is alone there and the moon has a satisfied smile. The ombre of galaxy blue to the colors of the sunset cloak the scene in calmness. It looks like the whole world is sleeping peacefully. Your timing and composition make this a minimal poster of solitude. It's early enough, there are no stars; late enough to catch a bright moon. This one is very special, thanks for sharing.

  • Comment Link Linda Taylor Sunday, 08 March 2020 09:43 posted by Linda Taylor

    Perfect and lovely both in subject and composition.

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 08 March 2020 09:04 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, wonderful visual metaphor with the arc of the moon and the curve of the landscape. And, thank you for the brief comment about exposure as trade-offs. How true. It makes me appreciate so much when there is abundant light giving us the luxury of high speeds, small apertures, and low noise! Have a good week.

  • Comment Link Kevin Desrosiers Sunday, 08 March 2020 07:54 posted by Kevin Desrosiers

    One thing I have never tried is having the sky take up 90% of the frame. Even though it does not work a lot of the time, it is perfect for this scene. The moon would not look right without the earth in the picture and the clouds coupled with the sky color changes (orange to blue) create an interesting background. Well done.

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