photography from the ground up

Posts tagged “Petrified Forest

More Flying On The Ground

I made my annual “pilgrimage” to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last weekend. I came home with well over fifteen hundred images to work through. I’m not finished, but I do have some “keepers” from the first batch of processing.

A-Heated-Discussion

The first image was captured early on Saturday morning at the North Chupadera Pond along Highway 1. I was looking for a full wing shot, but was having trouble catching one.

A-Study-In-Patience

An-Afternoon-Nap

I have a pattern that I follow while at The Bosque in order to optimize my interaction with the birds. After the cranes have all flown off from the ponds where they spend the night, I drive the entire loop looking for whatever might be there. I can usually find a Great Blue Heron along the edge of one of the channels that run through the refuge, and this year was no exception. This one seemed to be dozing off and on while waiting for his breakfast to appear.

A-Running-Start-2

There was certainly no shortage of take-off images. The cranes signal their intention to get airborne by leaning forward and stretching their necks as if they are testing the wind (perhaps they are). If you are a photographer waiting for some action, this should be a heads up that things are about to get interesting.

A-Moving-Reflection-2

I captured both of these images as the cranes were running to reach the speed they need to take off. The movement in these images is horizontal and normally calls for a landscape orientation, but when I took the second photo, I was looking for something specific which would be better served by a portrait orientation.

Cranedance

My patience was rewarded when this lone crane spread his wings. The reflection was a bonus.

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Digging Through The Archives

I have been stuck in the Photographic Doldrums for the past couple of months, so I have been spending quite a bit of time searching my archived images. I’m not one to live in the past, but I’ve found that it can be rewarding to revisit my older work. I have rediscovered some of my best work rummaging around in old files. I have also found photographs that, for some reason didn’t make the cut when I first edited them, but over time, with my ever-changing vision and some changes in my workflow, they suddenly take on a new life.

This first image was taken in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Mesa Arch is an iconic location for landscape photographers, but the shot almost everyone takes is of the sun rising behind the arch. Being a bit of a crank, and wanting to make an image that spoke of my vision and not some other photographer’s, I made this photograph in the late afternoon and used the arch to frame the incredible landscape that lies beyond it.

I made this image of Shiprock while driving to Utah a couple of years ago. I was drawn by the bright yellow rabbitbrush and I was also going through what I like to think of as my “fence phase”. These two elements made the perfect foreground for the great volcanic plug and brooding skies.

This is an image of the Virgin River in Zion National Park. The overcast settled lower and by the next morning, the rain was continuous, making my hike to the Subway impossible due to high water and flash flooding. But this moment, looking down canyon with the soft light penetrating the swollen sky is one of my best images from that trip.

Twilight at Chupadera Pond in Bosque del Apache NWR. These three cranes were hunting for their dinner. They had just flown back from a day of foraging in the farm fields at the northern end of the refuge and now they were continuing their seemingly endless search for food in the pond where they would spend the night. The color of the light in this image has not been altered. For one magical moment between sunset and the onset of night, the entire landscape was bathed in this golden-orange glow.

This final image of the Egg Garden in the Bisti Wilderness has gone through numerous iterations and I think I finally have it just where I want it. I know the composition goes against the venerable “Rule of Thirds”, but sometimes it’s good to break the rules, and sometimes it’s good to revisit the past.


From The Crystal Forest

This image was made in The Crystal Forest section of Petrified Forest National Park. As I noted in a previous post, The Crystal Forest, at one time, contained a large concentration of quartz and amethyst crystals, but most have been removed by souvenir hunters. I wanted to get closer to the petrified logs to make them a foreground element, but straying off the maintained trails is strictly forbidden. I could have used a telephoto lens, but the resulting compression would have removed the depth and and sense of distance from the image.

This is one of the few photos from this trip that has some clouds to break up the blue sky. To my eye it is just the right amount to add some interest without overwhelming the rest of the image.

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

Camera Settings: f 22, 1/30th 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