Posts Tagged bentonite

Home for the Holidays

I’ve mentioned before that several years ago, after having lost my muse because I stayed away from the desert far too long, I had to take a trip back to this beautiful country. As I dropped into Capitol Reef from the west, I burst into tears and said to no-one in particular, “Mother, I’m home.” To no-one? No, to the desert itself.

The mother desert? Yes, why not? It’s part of Mother Nature (or, as I often refer to her when the weather is bad, Ma Nature), and it’s the best part, I’ll warrant. There’s something about the desert that attracts me and nurtures me.

That’s hard to believe when one gives a cursory look around. There’s really not much there to offer physical sustenance (while I haven’t tried it, I’d guess it’s hard to eat cactus spines or juniper bark). If it’s not physical sustenance the desert offers it must be something else. Sustenance for the soul, perhaps. A deeper look confirms that.

I decided on that trip so long ago that this desert is my soul’s home. And home is where I need to be.

So I went down to the desert this past Thanksgiving. That means a couple things:

  • First, no turkey for thanksgiving dinner. In fact, if I didn’t stash some food in my motel room, no dinner at all. Everything closes for the holiday in the small towns that border the area I love. And that’s a good thing. I hate turkey anyway
  • Second, it reminds me to be truly thankful for this incredible landscape, my family and friends. You know, all the good things

But what is it that is so attractive in this land of harsh, dry rock and clay? Clearly there’s something. Perhaps it’s just the glee one feels when yet another stunning piece of land presents itself. And in that presentation challenges the photographer to record it with sensitivity and love.

Along with the discovery and recording comes the opportunity to share this experience with others. That’s key: the opportunity to share my experiences. When I stumble across natural beauty, I want to share it. And the best way for me to share is through my photography. So here are a couple looks at what I was thankful for last week.

 

As you know, I’m fascinated by Factory Butte. I walked in closer to the landform to see what it looked like up close.

 

Factory Butte

Factory Butte

 

The ‘badlands’ around the Butte are equally worth taking a look at.

 

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

 

And, of course, what’s a photography trip without a sunset?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

Or a sunrise, for that matter?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Desert Whirlwind 2

OK, still trying to get to the site of our Board meeting, we pressed onward. From Bryce we traveled up over Boulder Mountain and went across Hell’s Backbone. Hell’s backbone was an interesting engineering feat, but all-in-all, we were disappointed in it.

Of course, we weren’t disappointed by our trip to Capitol Reef, undoubtedly my favorite place in the world.

First we met some of the local fauna while photographing in the Boneyard.

Lizard

Lizard

Then we went to see if we could find a decent sunset spot. The tree you see below is my favorite sunset silhouette.

Sunset Tree 1

Sunset Tree 1

And

Sunset Tree 2

Sunset Tree 2

It’s great to be back!

More to follow,

 

Bob

 

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I’m Incorrigible

I had to head back to Laramie a day early and wanted to start early in the day. I figured if I got back at a decent time I’d be able to get some rest and have a little time to decompress. I had no plans to stop at Factory Butte. After all, we had already been there for a hike and I managed not to take any photos of the monolith. One day at a time is what it takes to break an addiction and photographing the Butte is truly my worst habit.

I headed out on Highway 24 before dawn (easy when daylight savings time rears its ugly head), and thought I’d make it past the Butte before the light got good. No way. Here’s what I was compelled to stop and shoot:

The light was pretty good, but the only light that was hitting the butte was reflected from the clouds. The sky was pretty dramatic, so I thought a black-and-white would do it justice.

Factory Butte Sunrise 1

Factory Butte Sunrise 1

But the colors were changing and these looked about right (remember, click on the image to see larger (and more color-accurate versions):

Factory Butte Sunrise 2

Factory Butte Sunrise 2

More to follow,

Bob

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What I’m thankful for

I’m thankful to be here in my favorite place on Earth. There’s every kind of desert image available within a few miles of ‘camp,’ and I take full advantage of it.

This morning we went to Hanksville to check out some new roads we found a nice lady who knew the familly that built the Wolverton Mill. Then we headed for the bentonite country to see what we could see. It was spectacular and I have a lot of images from the area. This may not be the best, but it shows some nice formations and gives a hint to the Spring Break crowd what they can expect. Assuming it doesn’t rain within the week before we get there. This stuff is murder when it’s wet.

Bentonite hills

Bentonite hills

Then there was sunset. This tree grabbed my attention from the start and most of the images I did of the sunset included it. It’s a pine tree, but I don’t discriminate. While I love junipers, I have equal feelings for pines. Especially the ones that look so interesting as this one.

Sunset Tree

Sunset Tree

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Oh, and another thing I’m thankful for: I don’t have to eat turkey or watch football today! Life is good!

More to follow,

Bob

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My, how time flies!

Seems like it’s been a little while since I posted. And it has. Wow! things just conspire to eat your time. That’s especially true when you get stuck in a cigar tube and fly across country. I had to go to Tampa, FL for a series of meetings earlier this month, run to Denver a couple times and attend a memorial service for a dear friend, and, well, to quote Willie Nelson, “Ain’t it funny how time slips away?”

These photos are from a workshop we did in, you guessed it, Capitol Reef National Park. It was another one of those workshops where we goofed off with old friends, told stories on each other, sipped a few beers and made a lot of photographs. I started working on them just after I returned home, then got distracted with other stuff. So here they are.

So much of what I was seeing on that trip was in black-and-white, a medium that I love and try to get right. See what you think:

 

We avoided too much adventure on this trip. To get to the Bentonite Hills, we had to ford the Fremont River. The nice thing about rivers in the West is that they are often what Easterners would call ‘creeks.’ But we do have photographic evidence that there are times when driving across the river isn’t a great idea. This time the flooding was over, so it went well.

Bentonite

Bentonite

In the early spring, there’s little greenery in the desert. This dead weed will undoubtedly be replaced by a lush, green one (at least for a few weeks) and the contrast will be lost. There’s an old photographic adage that you should never walk past a potential image thinking that you’ll get it later. Later never happens. The light is never the same, the scene is subtly different and (this is especially true of me) you’ll forget where the dern thing was anyway.

Boulder and Weed

Boulder and Weed

And then there’s always the large wall detail. This one has so much going for it that I just gawked a while, took out the camera and saw a black-and-white image. It’s not quite a grand landscape, but it’s not intimate landscape, either. Just call it wall detail with juniper trees.

Alcove and Wall Detail

Alcove and Wall Detail

Yes, of course there’s color. Tune in Wednesday for proof of that.

 

Mor to follow.

Bob

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Obsessive? Compulsive? Why not?

OK, I admit it, and have all along. I am obsessive when it comes to finding a good foto of a particular location. Regular readers will remember seeing several images of Factory Butte. You will also remember I said I’d continue to photograph it until I got it right. Here are two more images. Each has a little something going for it. While the sunrise color is not precisely what I was looking for, the new angle helped some and a little post-processing enhanced (but did not change) the color. Except for the second one.

 

Factory Butte. Sunrise

Factory Butte. Sunrise

Factory Butte, Sunrise, Monochrome

Factory Butte, Sunrise, Monochrome

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I wonder about this winterland

Yes, I’m still thinking desert. There are some roads one doesn’t want to travel except in the finest weather. Sadly, they are roads that offer the most stunning landscape views. And landscapes are often at their best in less-than-fine weather. What does one do?

Here are examples of two places I wouldn’t want to be if it had rained or snowed in the last couple weeks.

The first is on the way to Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park. It’s a long, dry, dusty, rough drive. Unless it’s wet and impassable. Then it’s a short drive, a lot of pulling, pushing, struggling, shoveling and cursing. But it’s well worth seeing this stunning bentonite landscape. The colors are striking, gray, grayer, grayest with a few accents of purple and red. I truly do like the colors down there, but the shapes of the land beg for a rendition in black-and-white, so I’ve done that for these two images.

Bentonite Wash, Cathedral Valley Road

Bentonite Wash, Cathedral Valley Road

The Capitol Reef area is just about my favorite place on Earth. The land is tortured and challenging. Last post I talked about my favorite landform, Factory Butte, which is not too far from the above area.

Going south from Capitol Reef, one can follow the Notom road. Dunno exactly what Notom is. Maybe a ghost town, an old settlement or just a name someone dropped on the way to somewhere else. Follow the Notom road for a while and you’ll come to a turnoff to the Burr Trail, one of the most spectacular pieces of road in the Utah desert. But before the Burr Trail, you’ll come across some more of that bentonite. Similar shapes, colors, etc., but a long, dusty drive away from the Cathedral Valley road. Here’s what that looks like:

Bentonite Hills Notom Road

Bentonite Hills Notom Road

Shapes, patterns, interesting ways to reflect light. That’s why the desert is so photogenic. About the only time photography is bad is when the sun is beating down mercilessly from a clear blue sky. Even then one can always find a photograph.

Hmmmmm, I wonder what the weather’s like down there? Wonder how the roads are? Getting an itchy gas-pedal foot.

More to follow,

Bob

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