photography from the ground up

Archive for May, 2010

Adams Falls

My daughter Lauren and I hiked Ricketts Glen yesterday. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Ricketts Glen is a State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania. Many people come for the camping, fishing, and boating which is available at Lake Jean in the upper part of the park, but for me, the real attraction is the waterfalls.

The Falls Trail is a three and a half mile hike which drops about 700 feet in the first mile as it cascades through Ganoga Glen. At Waters Meet, the trail heads up through Glen Leigh for another mile before it tops out at the Highland Trail, which brings you back to where you started. There are twenty two named, and numerous unnamed waterfalls  along the way. They range in height from 11 to 97 feet; they are all spectacular, each in its own way.

Adams Falls is unique in that it is not within the main part of the park. It is several miles downstream from the rest of the falls, and is actually only a stones throw away from a state highway. It is also, in my opinion, the most beautiful and dramatic of them all.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 zoom lens, 2 stop neutral density filter, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f22, 1, 2, 4 secs., ISO 250

Refuge 2

Another HDR image of the one of the tinajas at San Ysidro trails. I’m wondering if there is still water in them since we haven’t been getting precipitation as regularly as in the early spring and winter. This is actually the first of the pools I came across. You can see the chute where the water flows (when it flows) in the upper center of the image.

I used three source images exposed at -1, 0, and +1 EV, and mapped the blend using the details enhancer workflow in Photomatix Pro.  Details enhancer produces the most extreme results of the three different methods available in the application. For this photo I used minimal settings so the effect wouldn’t be over the top. Finally, I applied a curves adjustment in Photoshop to boost the contrast, and correct color.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f22, 1/10th, 1/20th, 1/40th sec., ISO 100

Hoodoo Overload

Another image from Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah. As we moved through this amazing landscape, and became accustomed to finding a new surprise around practically every corner, we reached a point of saturation. It was my companion who coined the phrase when she said:“I think I’m in hoodoo overload!”. This is the photo I was setting up as she uttered those words. Anyone who has been to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is probably familiar with the feeling. There is just so much out there, and before one thing has a chance to register, another is vying for your attention.

This is a high dynamic range image blended from three source images. The textures in the foreground shadows were not as visible in the normal exposure. I used the exposure fusion workflow, and finished up the processing in Abobe Photoshop.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/8th, 1/15th, 1/30th sec., ISO 100.


As many times as I have seen erosion patterns in sandstone, siltstone and claystone, I am still captivated by the play of light on these landscapes, and, when I am in such a place, I can’t help but feel that I am looking at the wisdom of the ages reflected in the wizened face of the earth.

This image is one of the last I made on our trip to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah at the beginning of April. We were walking through a wash heading back to the parking area when I spotted this scene. I bracketed five exposures, but in the end, I only used four–the brightest one was causing the highlights in the middle ground to blow out.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/10th, 1/20th, 1/40th, 1/80th sec., ISO 100.

Collapse Of The Onyx Bridge

Collapse Of The Onyx Bridge

On our last day in the Painted Desert, we hiked down into the Black Forest Wilderness. I had heard about, and seen photos of the Onyx Bridge: a large petrified log that spans a wash far out in the wilderness. I had also heard that the bridge had collapsed, but the staff at the Painted Desert Inn Museum assured us that it was still intact. So, GPS in hand, we set off.

The hike, which according to the staff was only about a mile, turned out to be closer to three miles one way. We walked down the trail into the beginning of the wilderness where the trail turned into a path, and then the path became a track, and finally disappeared altogether at the edge of the Lithodendron Wash. We bushwacked across several s–curves in the huge wash and then began to search for the smaller side wash in which the Onyx Bridge was reputed to be still intact. By now my faith in the staff’s knowledge had begun to erode.

After a couple of false starts, we finally found the right course, and after scampering up through yet another side wash around huge petrified logs, we came to the bridge…collapsed as rumored. It was still a memorable experience. This large conifer, now millions of years old, it’s wood now replaced by a mineral matrix, had taken one more step towards its ultimate demise.

We spent about an hour exploring other parts of the Black Forest before beginning the long trek back to the museum and the parking lot. Once back, we went in to let them know we had returned safely, and to inform them that the bridge had indeed collapsed.

Our trip was at an end; we drove home, talking about the experiences we had enjoyed over the past several days. There is always a bit of melancholy for me after a long anticipated trip or event has come and gone, and this time was no different. I will return to the Petrified Forest, but it will never be quite the same as the first time.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/15th sec., ISO 100

Blue Mesa Symphony

I made this image as we were leaving Blue Mesa. I’m not really a fan of overlooks; people have a tendency to think that once they’ve seen something from an overlook, they have experienced all there is of that particular place. In this case, however, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the view.

We had already hiked down to the base of the mesa, and had seen it up close and personal, but the wider view afforded by the overlook was pretty amazing as well. The bands of color are caused by the different minerals present at various times during the area’s geologic history. I think this is one of my favorites from the entire trip.

This is another Exposure Fusion HDR made from four source images in Photomatix Pro.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 mm f2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/10th, 1/20th, 1/40th, 1/80th sec., ISO 100.

Sleeping Giant

I made this image in a part of the Petrified Forest known as the Crystal Forest. At one time many of the petrified logs there contained quartz and amethyst crystals, but souvenir hunters have removed most of the best pieces leaving very little for the rest of us to enjoy. The removal of these crystals is one of the major reasons the Petrified Forest was granted National Park status. It is now illegal to remove anything from the park.

The Crystal Forest is still a remarkable place to visit. There is a short 3/4 mile paved trail which meanders through one of the highest concentrations of petrified logs in the park, and while I would much rather be out hiking through a wilderness, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

This is a five exposure HDR image processed as an exposure fusion in Photomatix Pro.

Equipment: Nikon D700, Nikon 17–35 mm f 2.8 zoom lens, circular polarizer, Bogen tripod.

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/20th, 1/10th/ 1/5th, 1/2, 8/10ths sec. ISO 100