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Friday, 28 August 2015 00:00

Two Roads Diverged in a Desert and I...

The Burr Trail Road is named for a man who was born aboard a ship in the Atlantic Ocean in 1846. His family, moving south from Salt Lake City, established the town of Burrville, Utah in 1876. The man, John Atlantic Burr, became a rancher and opened this trail as a way of moving his cattle from winter to summer pastures and to market. In this location, his trail crossed the nearly impassible Waterpocket Fold, some to the desert's most ruggedly beautiful land, along the edge of what is now Capitol Reef National Park. From the top of the Dugway, the tortuous Henry Mountains form the eastern horizon. I wanted to tell the story of this amazing area, so I chose a focal length of 31mm, the narrow end of wide-angle, which allowed me to include the rocks of the Waterpocket Fold on either side of the road, as well as the mid-ground mesas and the jagged, distant peaks. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/15th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure. John Burr is out there somewhere.

Saturday, 22 August 2015 00:00

Taos by Sunset Light

The high desert is beauty in innumerable forms. Just south of Taos you can look westward across the long slash of the Rio Grande River Gorge and into the convergence of that great river with its tributary, Rio Pueblo de Taos. Beyond this, the La Madera Mountains rise up to greet the sun as it slowly fades away. As the cloud masses gathered I went searching for a vantage point from which to watch the gathering dusk. A small county park was just what I was looking for. As the beams of the setting ball began to break through the  overhead gray, I was ready for the show and was not disappointed. Since the main feature was primarily about the sky, I chose to include only a tiny portion of the distant landforms. A moderately long telephoto focal length of 315mm allowed me to isolate the beam pattern that I wanted. An aperture of f/16 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

Friday, 14 August 2015 00:00

From Shafer to Snowpack

There is a point at which a 40' wide strip of land is all that connects the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park with the rest of the plateau. One day Shafer Canyon will erode itself through that strip and Island in the Sky will become an island of mesa. From the edge of Shafer Canyon, now, one can look northeastward across the amazing wandering gash of the Colorado River into the snow-filled, uplifted ridges of the La Sal Mountains. In the late-afternoon light the walls of Shafer transform into glowing contrasts of various shades of burnt-orange sighting on the blue uplifts in the distance. It is a sight never to be forgotten. I wanted to exclude much of the extraneous field-of-view, as well as magnify the peaks and compress the apparent distance between my position and theirs without eliminating the near walls of the canyon, so I chose a short-moderate telephoto focal length of 168mm. An aperture of f/20 gave me depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/30th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure. 



Saturday, 08 August 2015 00:00

Hoodoo and Starburst

Where Wahweap Creek cuts into a layer of 160 million-year-old Entrada Sandstone, overlain by a layer of hundred-million-year-old Dakota Sandstone, the erosion of the exposed wall has created the marvelous white columns of the Wahweap Hoodoos. As the wall has receded, the columns become separated and individualized. One of these magnificent structures now stands isolated more than a hundred feet from the wall itself. On my most recent visit to Wahweap I had arrived just after sunrise and had become absorbed in photographing the wall and its attendant columns when I turned to notice the sun approaching the top of the lone column. Hurrying to locate myself in the proper position I set up and waited for the light to peek over the top of the hoodoo, releasing the shutter several times before flare became too intense. It was a wonderful moment to foresee and to create. I chose to stand fairly close to the hoodoo so that I could be in its shade as the sun rose above the top; thus a 36mm focal length was used to give me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/20 gave me depth-of-field to render the background sharply and to create a tighly-rayed starburst; and a shutter speed of 1/40 second at ISO 100 gave me a lighter-than-medium exposure.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 00:00

Yon Side Looking Glass

Not long ago I decided that I wanted to catch a sunrise from one of my favorite locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Black Balsam Mountain Overlook. In spite of really being conscientious about arriving on time, I was delayed in my departure from Asheville; and as I was going down the Parkway as quickly as the speed limit would allow, I realized that I was going to fall short in my arrival. Nothing to do but go to Plan B. Knowing the road intimately was certainly a boon because I was able to stop several miles short of my destination and use Looking Glass Rock as a foreground element while the color deepened and the thin mists floated lazily through the valleys below. Scouting your locations ahead of time and becoming intimate with their possibilities is sometimes the difference between salvaging a wonderful experience from the jaws of "too late." Since the layers of color were stacked vertically, it was a vertical composition that appealed to me, but extraneous elements in the visual field dictated a focal length of 75mm - the near end of short telephoto. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 0.6 second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly darker-than-medium exposure which I further darkened in post-processing in order to bring the scene closer to the way my eyes experienced it.

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