Zion Narrows XI

Blurred water and human figures

The image is from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC Pro SLR/c and Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 250, exposure 3.5 sec at f/8. The flowing water in forground has an appealing blur, fellow waders, in the distance under beeteling cliffs, are blurred and unrecognizable.

Here the canyon turns sharply to the right.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows X

Flash Flood Refuge?

The first of three long exposures of the Virgin River from the Narrows on the way back to Pam. Earlier on Pam headed back, concerned about thunderstorms and the possibility of flash floods. I hung on, for the perfect photo. I came pretty close here, with the flowing water coming aound this outcrop of picturesque boulders, canyon turning sharply right up ahead.. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Sun and Shade, Canyon Del Muerto

watch out for quicksand

In my post Canyon of Music, Wind, Light I shared a different photograph of this beetle crawling on sandstone, naming it as a “dung beetle”. I had assumed it was one from once having seen a beetle in an Arizona desert pushing a ball of dung around. This morning, to confirm my assumption, I searched for images of “Arizona Dung Beetle” and was dismayed to find this beetle shares no characteristics with the photographs. Absent smoking gun evidence, sadly lacking in this photograph, I have to admit my “dung beetle” attribution is in error.

Supporting the beetle, the luminous surface of the red sandstone named “de Chelly,” sunlight reflects from durable remnants of the ancestral Rocky Mountains wore to these bits of rock, piled to mountainous dunes by the winds of tens of thousands years, polished to smoothness each against the others.

Natural Markings
Mysterious abrasion and grooves in a de Chelly sandstone cliff, Canyon de Chelly.

The above photograph is a detail from the brightly lit cliff of the following photograph. The desert varnish and underlying rock was weathered over thousands of years, the sand grains falling to the canyon floor.

Click to view my Arizona fine art gallery
Breadth, Light, Shadow
Canyon Del Muerto vista from a ledge.

The soil of the canyon is composed of these bits of the ancestral Rocky Mountains. What appears to be a white road in the above photograph is not man-made, it is the dried bed of a stream. When a waterway is dry like this, only flowing with rains, it is called a wash. When water fills the wash of the Canyon Del Muerto, the polished sand granules become a dangerous morass, sucking down horses, people, anything unlucky enough to step into it. Every movement, struggling for freedom, pulls the victim deeper down until the wet sand closes over the head and suffocation and death ensues.

Sandstone Stairs
Stairs cut into the sandstone cliff of Canyon de Chelly

The waters Canyon De Chelly National Monument naturally form a vast Y into the Defiance Plateau, naturally because two major streams merge into one canyon a few miles above Chinle. On both our guided trips, heading east from Chinle there is a branch. On the right De Chelly canyon continues. On the left is Canyon Del Muerto. The photos in this post are all from “The Canyon of the Dead”, what the name means translated into English.

Click to view my Arizona fine art gallery

No, it is not named this because of the quicksand. Conditions for quicksand are present throughout canyons of the southwest. It is history of human occupation for which this canyon was named. I will cover it in a future posting. For now, I will say the above views are from the spot featured in “Family Trek.”

My first visit, in 2003, while my son Sean climbed the rocks with our guide, I was left to document the wondrous surroundings. The above shallow cave is reached by that stairway carved into the precipitous ledge. The access to the cave is via those naturally occurring ridges of the cross bedded sandstone. It is another example of De Chelly sandstone formed from the windblown edge of a monstrous ancient sand dune.

Monumental Cliff
A solid block of De Chelly sandstone formed from the central bulk of a sand dune.

Here is another example of rock formed from the solid body of the sand dune, that unbroken and un-striated cliff. Below is the cross-bedded, windblown sand.

Cliff with Foliage
Autumn lights up the floor of Canyon De Chelly, the foliage rivals the cliffs for wonder at this time.

As we proceeded generally east from the climbing spot of “Family Trek”, driving by the golden cottonwood foliage I asked the guide to stop for these photographs.

Canyon de Chelly
Canyon walls

Soon the cliffs hid the sun.

Canyon de Chelly

Notice the modern water distribution system (pipe) at the foot of cliff on right. These vast tracks of shadow adjacent to bright sunlight are a fact of life for canyon dwellers, a source of joy and wonder.

Canyon de Chelly

The canyon here is rather like the Narrows of Zion, without the water.

Canyon de Chelly

Enjoy!!

Click for the another Arizona post, “Juniper Sunrise.”

Click for the first posting of this series, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide.”
 
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills Photography

White House Ruin

iconic image

November 2003 my son, Sean, and I drove up route 191 from the Petrified Forest National Part to arrived at Chinle on a November afternoon. In 2003 my photography kit included a Sony Point and Shoot 5 MP camera with filters, an over the shoulder (purse type) bag and an inexpensive “Kmart” tripod.

We found the White House trailhead, hiked down essentially alone as the sun set at 5:20 pm.  At that time, a thick stand of Russian Olive trees choked the wash.  We stopped at this point in the gathering dark.  I took this distant shot of the White House Ruin against the Russian Olive autumn foliage.  A stand of Cottonwoods growing near the canyon wall had yet to turn their brilliant yellow.  At that time, the White House Ruin was painted white.

WhiteHouseRuin20080718-3

When Pam and I visited July 2008, in the intervening 4 years, 9 months the Russian Olives were removed as an invasive species, the ruin was no longer white.

There is one highway headed south in the Four Corners region of Northern Arizona, the same route 191 Sean and I took.  In 2008 Pam and I came from Colorado south on 191, also arriving late afternoon.

That July day the sun set 8:33 pm as the Navajo Reservation observes daylight savings time. My goal was to photograph the White House Ruin I missed in 2003. We arrived at the trail head. My photography kit was expanded from 2003, now included a Kodak DSC Pro slr/C, the “C” meaning “Canon” lens mounting, a Sony 700 alpha slr (I only use a variable lens), Manfrotto tripod with hydrostatic ball head, and the backpack style Lowe camera case. With the tripod it is over 25 pounds.

With this on my back I was prepared to boogie down the trail. At the height of tourist season there were many more people at the trailhead. Pam, being a friendly person, started a conversation while I ploughed ahead along the flat canyon rim. It is solid red sandstone, beautiful, generally level with enough unevenness to require attention. When Pam saw how far ahead I was she tried to catch up, tripped, fell hard.

I backtracked to Pam and we pulled it together. She thought, maybe, the fall broke a rib. We descended, slowly, together. Here we are in front of the ruin. The sun, low in the sky, is moving below the south canyon wall. This is a perfect time and I used both cameras.

Mike and Pam at White House Ruin
Mike and Pam Wills with the White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, July 2008

The sweep of cliff and desert varnish was my intent to capture. Here it is through the Canon 50 mm lens.

WhiteHouseRuin200807-8
Click link for this White House photograph in my Online gallery.

I captured this version with the Sony Alpha 700 slr, the variable lens set to widest angle.

White House Ruin
Click link for this White House photograph from my online gallery.

Here the camera setup waits out the sun…..

Whte House Ruin Setup
Camera, protected by hat, mounted on Manfrotto Tripod at the White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly. July 2008
Click for the first posting of this series, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide”.

Click for the next posting of this series, “Family Trek.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills Photography

Zion Narrows IX

highwater?

Three long exposures of the Virgin River, long may it flow. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows VIII

highwater?

Anywhere outside the water challenged southern Utah desert the Virgin River would be a creeks. The volume of flow does not exceed our Fall Creek, the largest stream of the Finger Lakes Region. Here I present two identical long exposures of the river backed by cross bedded Navajo Sandstone. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows VII

highwater?

Mysterious alcoves through cross-bedded Navajo Sandstone, 15 feet, or more, above the streambed. I use mysterious in the sense I wished the formations were mysterious, standing there with nowhere to climb, witnessing the effects of floods that high above. The location is The Narrows just above Orderville Canyon junction, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows VII

laying around in The Narrows

This polished basalt, the product of volcanic eruptions and eons-long weathering, is common on the Virgin River bed. Zion National Park, of The Narrows just above Orderville Canyon junction.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows VI

long and narrow

I combined two 50 mm exposures for this view of an interesting rock and beetling canyon walls. Upstream from here it is a day’s walk to reach ground safe from flash floods, downstream at least one hour. Narrows of Zion National Park, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows V

narrow and tall

This long exposure blurs the two distant human figures looking downstream toward junction of Orderville Canyon, around corner. Narrows of Zion National Park, Utah

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved