Let me preface this by apologizing for the length of this post. There's going to be about twice as many photos as my previous posts. Why? Sun, sky, clouds, and rocks! White Pocket is a location that Rick shot some years back, and he had figured that he would need a guide to get back here. Now we were here, and we had nearly a perfect day. Stunning sky with wonderful clouds. Another Dr. Seuss world of stone. The only downside was wind; on the top of this formation I would estimate the winds to be 50-70 mph. Serious wind.
So, where to start? This formation is incredible: a mix of brain rock (no idea what it's composed of) and red and yellow sandstone. Brain rock is tough, sandstone can be very fragile. We were always careful to tread lightly. Although Susan and her group was also here, they didn't stay long and we had the place to ourselves (there was a group that showed up near sunset, but they left quick). You're out in the middle of nowhere, with no one else—and you have more stuff to photograph than you know what to do with. There's interest with any light (not just sunrise or sunset), so it's a phenomonal opportunity to get out and be creative. That's exactly what the three of us did—we all split up and followed our respective muses. I'll be interested to see what Rick and Kendall end up sharing from this shoot, because we were all in different areas for much of our time here.
This is a perspective of what we were looking at. Shot with the 10-20 mm
I was immediately drawn to this collection of stripes and swirls. I'll admit to having a hard time concentrating on taking pictures at times like these—sometimes I just want to climb and play! Here's a collection of the swirls for you.
But it wouldn't be fair not to put on my trusty 50 and take some 'normal' shots of this area with the incredible vistas. Can you believe our luck with the clouds, the rain in the distance, and these delicious, rich colors?
Rock art, with clouds. This is the top of the formation, and I decided to do a scramble to the summit.
Looking down, you can see the 'brain rock' and the ridges. I decided to set Chunsum's tripod down in a secure crevice to do the remaining part of the climb. It's amazing how much one crevice looks like the next in this stuff. It took me an embarrassingly long time to find it…
A view from the top. This is the next formation over (to the west). I didn't try climbing it. It was actually pretty damn scary up here, because I was into the teeth of a wind that was gusting to at least 60 mph at the top. My hat went flying (luckily went straight into a crevice and was easy to pick up).
Domo was scared that I was going to put him down. This is shot with the 10-20.
With high winds, racing clouds, and bright sun, you get lots of opportunities for 'shaft-o-light' on the landscape.
I know that tripod is somewhere around here…
This area is nicely lit:
But then the sun comes out around where I'm shooting from and you have this:
More fabulous vistas
Eventually I worked my way back to familiar territory…
…and found Kendall
We traveled together and shot in the same area for a while
Find Domo-kun for extra credit!
Here's a stunning example of flare, using the new 8-16 lens.
I got to try this lens for some time, and I have to say that it's terrific. It's actually pretty resistant to flare (I'm pointing it into the sun, which is right out of frame on the top left), it's well built, and pretty darn sharp edge to edge. If I were recommending a wide angle to someone new, I'd pick it over the 10-20. I love my 10-20 and will probably keep it (and there are other lenses that I'd want first, like the new 85 (didn't get to test), the 50-500 OS (did get to try), and the 70 (defines 'sharp').
One thing we wondered about. There are all these dark pebbles around here. There's no rock to suggest where they came from. This shot reminds me of a weird 'Go' game...
We meandered our way from this main formation over to a cave in an adjacent monolith. There were some petroglyphs on the wall outside the entrance, likely from the Anasazi
One can wonder about ancient cave-dwelling citizens, like…
My token dead-tree shot.
By this time (later in the afternoon) I was wearing out and out of water. I decided to leave the guys and headed back to the car to hydrate and grab a bite to eat. That turned out to be a good idea—within 30 minutes I was feeling a lot better and decided to run around to the south side of the formation to shoot in an area I hadn't been.
I met up with Kendall again, and we tried to scope a decent place for sunset. Unfortunately, it looked as if the clouds would conspire against us and not let us have that last bit of light. But persistence won the day, and we were treated to very nice late afternoon light.
We made our way back to the 'camp' and had a late evening dinner of sandwiches and fruit (I forgot the beer!), and got our bedding out and slept beneath the stars. We were fortunate that the wind settled down (the air temp probably got to the low 40s/upper 30s that night). The moon was less than half full, and it set around 2 am. The stars were amazing; I got to see a big shooting star that 'exploded'. Coyotes serenaded us as the light went down, but were quiet during the night. I think we all slept soundly. Again, what a fantastic day for photography! And it would get better tomorrow!!