Friday, 24 January 2020 11:42

The Intricacy of Mud Dabbers

Even in the low-contrast light of  an overcast sunset late-afternoon, Fisher Towers is a remarkable piece of Earth. As they emerge from the larger mesa on the left, these spires of Cutler Sandstone, capped with Moenkopi Sandstone and stuccoed over with iron-rich red mud, stand out in wonderment. The geologic forces that began the erosional cycle of the towers originated with the igneous intrusion of a great laccolith that is seen now as the La Sal Mountain peaks, reaching 12,000+', dark in the background. Unseen at my feet, the Colorado River churns its way to destiny.

This land is "owned" by the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, which means it is owned by all of us; and as "Public Land" it is our job to see that it is preserved for everyone to enjoy. The "Colorado River Road," Utah Highway 128 is fairly short, but it is filled with the beauty of landscapes such as this. My dear friend, Kevin Desrosiers, and I came upon this scene a couple of years ago as we headed for Moab down the River Road.

A focal length of 210mm, the extreme long-end of medium-telephotoland, gave me the relatively narrow slice of the scene that I wanted and some magnification, as well. An aperture of f/20 with the camera-to-subject distance, provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds in the waning light at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

This land is our land. I think it's time we began to treat it, as every other aspect of our Democracy, as what it is, which is to say "Sacred."

Friday, 17 January 2020 18:21

An Icon in Green

Along the eastern base of Dorr Mountain, a mere 357' lower in elevation than Cadillac Mountain, the massive Laurentide Ice Sheet left a deep cleft in the granitic rocks, which eventually filled in to become a small glacial pond called the "Tarn." (Of course, the ice sheet itself was several miles thick.) A short walk through the woods at the northern end of the Tarn brings you to a very special area in the floodplain of Cromwell Creek, Sieur de Monts Spring, an ancient water source used by the native Penobscot (Wabanaki), as well as early White Settlers. Ultimately the spring came to be the property of George Dorr, the "Father of Acadia National Park," and thus, eventually, a part of Acadia. The land around the spring is low and moist, a perfect ecosystem for a variety of ferns that seem to grow abundantly and thickly.

A focal length of 32mm, in the long end of wide-angleland, gave me the angle of view I wanted: a broad, but intimate, swath of the woodland scene. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/5th second was obtained with an ISO of 400.That ISO/aperture combination was three-stops faster than what I would have achieved at ISO 100; f/22; and it allowed me to freeze the motion of a slight morning breeze wafting through the forest.

The beauty of Acadia, so iconically apparent driving along the Park Loop Road, is no less so in the many out of the way places that stitch the rocks together into the fabric of Pemetic, the Sloping Land.

Friday, 10 January 2020 17:13

The Hangout of Saint Rafael

 When the great, roughly ovular uplift that became the San Rafael Swell was formed, the lands to the south and east came ultimately to lie within the rain shadow of the imposing uplifts, and the lands it circumscribed became known as the San Rafael Desert. How apt it is that San Rafael, the beloved angelic being, is charged with healing both the Earth and humankind. This landscape is beautiful and barren, if you are not familiar with the life of the desert; but if you are reasonably attentive, you quickly recognize that the San Rafael is a sea of living things, including the rocks and the soils they become. The San Rafael is life itself: often hard, harsh, and prickly. This land belongs to all of us, and to become familiar with it is to open a doorway into how we manage the Commons for the benefit of the many rather than the few.

With the early morning sun at an angle left-to-right behind me, a focal length of 108mm, surprising in that it actually represents short-telephotoland rather than wide-angleland, gave me the somewhat-narrower-than-you-might-imagine-angle-of-view. An aperture of f/20, focused about a third of the distance between the closest foreground and camera infinity, which in this instance was about the tilted rock slab in from the bottom of the frame, gave me depth-of-field; and with a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second at ISO 100, created a medium exposure.

Perhaps the give-away that this is not wide-angle work is the relative size of the background uplifts which would "appear" smaller if seen through wide-angle focal lengths. The San Rafael Desert is a spectacular example of how easily great beauty can become lost in the Southwest's greater icons; Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, and the others. Please join me in advocating for the San Rafael Deserts of our world. They are too precious to lose.  

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