Friday, 28 June 2019 11:54

From Here to Factory Butte

It is called "cryptobiotic," this crunchy, crusty overburden of cracked earth that is found in so many of the Southwest's iconic desert places. It appears to be good for not much when it comes to growing living things; but, in truth, it is very much a community of living organisms. It performs important, actually essential, ecological roles including carbon fixation, nitrogen fixation and soil stabilization. Without it, the top layer of the land's surface would become bare and barren, dusty dirt. It is, truly, the life force of the desert. The beautiful uplift of Factory Butte, the same Factory Butte, and a surrounding 5400 acres, that has just been opened up to unrestrictred cross-country ORV use, is surrounded by areas of cryptobiotic soil. It would seem that the BLM has chosen to create a sacrifice-zone of one of the most beautiful locations in the San Rafael Country.

Just at sunrise I found a place on the front side of the factory looking across the desert and into the scalloped and striated uplift of the great butte. The soft, golden light highlighted the wonder of the desert and its amazing elements. A focal length of 60mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.6 second at ISO 100 gave me a very slightly-darker-than-medium exposure.

It is not required of us to remain silent while the great beauty around us with which we have been blessed is compromised in the name of hedonistic pleasure or wanton disregard. Consider the work of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance:

Saturday, 22 June 2019 22:33

In a Village By the Sea

There are fishing villages along the Maine coast which, over the years, have recast themselves as tourist attractions. Bar Harbor comes quickly to mind. There are others, such as the Village of Bernard, which have remained true to their history and continue today as the quaint centers of Maine's lobster fishing industry: wonderful to visit, equally wonderful to photograph. From the City Pier, looking across Bass Harbor, Bernard reveals the Acadian skyline prominantly featuring Sargeant Mountain and below it, on the water, the real work of bringing the succulence of Maine lobsta' to the waiting tables of Mount Desert Island and beyond.

A focal length of 100mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted, with a bit of magnification and compression, isolating a section of the harbor and its retinue of fishing boats at anchor after a morning's run . An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/30th second at ISO 100 gave me a slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure.

The docks of Bernard are covered with lobster traps. The kind for tourists are found in other parts of Mount Desert Island where the cruise ships come in.

Saturday, 15 June 2019 09:38

Cinnamon and Grass

Sieur de Monts and the Wild Gardens of Acadia are as historical as they are beautiful. George Dorr purchased the Sieur de Monts spring and surrounding area in 1909, renaming it the Wild Gardens of Acadia, where he hoped to preserve it for public enjoyment and education. Eventually he presented it to the United States Government to become part of Acadia National Park, and so it is today one of Acadia's special places, where the early French explorers to Mount Desert Island found fresh waterfor their needs.

I was very much attracted to the small clump of cinnamon fern, seemingly alone in a sea of grasses punctuated by the ever-present slender trunks of white birch. In the early morning light, creating a gossamer carpet, the attraction became complete. A focal length of 78mm, very short telephotoland, gave me the angle-of-view I wanted with almost no magnification. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 in the still air, gave me a very-slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure.

Last week there was rock. Today there is light. I suppose next week's offering will have to be about water...the three cornerstones of an Acadian experience.

Saturday, 08 June 2019 18:41

The Texture of the Sea

The tip of an ancient conifer log, textured and bleached by years of slowly being buried by the rounding stones of Little Hunter's Beach on the coastline of Acadia National Park, lies in stubborn persistence before the surrounding elements. Over the past several years I have watched as the giant trunk has slowly disappeared. Paper may cover rock, but this scene must surely end in the covering by rock of the great driftwood form.

 A focal length of 97mm, short telephoto from a distance of 2.5' away, gave me a bit of magnification and the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 ensured depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.8 second at ISO 100 gave me a very medium exposure.

Acadia is home to a wondrous diversity of beach types from softly shifting sands to seemingly immutable granite. Each has its own never-ending story told in the intertwining realms in rock, water, and light.

Friday, 31 May 2019 19:25

Back Door of the Factory

Without prior notice or opportunity for public input, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Richfield field office announced last Wednesday—just before Memorial Day weekend—that it has opened 5,400 acres of public lands surrounding Utah’s iconic Factory Butte to unfettered cross-country off-road vehicle (ORV) use. I have stopped by Factory Butte several times after staying in Caineville (Utah) on my way to Capitol Reef National Park. This action is, in my humble estimation, a travesty. The San Rafael Desert is an amazing place and there are plenty of opportunities for off-road play without destroying such a fragile landscape.

A focal length of 97mm, short telephoto-land, gave me the slightly compressed and stacked angle-of-view I wanted of the far backside of the butte, opposite Utah Highway 24. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 in the still fairly early morning light gave me an overall slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure.

Seen from the Highway 24 end of the butte one can easily imagine a huge monolithic building filled with all sorts of intricate machinery producing the stuff of America's material culture, but it's really the desert and an awesome natural landscape that should be preserved unspoiled. There are back country roads sufficient to get one near enough to enjoy a wonderful walk among the sands and rocks.

Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.