Capitol Reef National Park encompasses the Waterpocket Fold. This fold runs about 100 miles north and south. It was formed 50 -70 million years ago along a fault during a mountain building period in the Western states. Movement along the fault created these monoclines rising as much as 7000 feet. More recent activity 15- 20 million years ago of the Colorado Plateau uplift and resulting erosion exposed the surface of the monoclines. As much as 10,000 feet of strata representing 270 million years of geological history has been exposed in some areas.
Capitol Reef National Park is full of unusual forms, outcroppings, ridges, valleys, and canyons. Everywhere I turned, I saw a different formation. Questions flashed across my mind. How were they formed in the first place? When were they created? What was the landscape like at the time of the creation? What was the driving natural force that changed the landscape? What forces caused the erosion to occur in a specific way? Why are there different colors and tones? What are the legends that surround the formation’s history?
Does Navaho Dome reflect the lined face fo wisdom or the peaks and swirls of child’s play? Maybe it is both …
On my last day at Capitol Reef I decided to just drive around and scout some of the areas for a future trip. It was mid-day when I saw some interesting shadows on these rock protrusions. The scene looked pretty flat in color. My mind turned black and white. I like clouds and shadows. Here were both.
This was my first stop at Capitol Reef National Park following my stop at the Visitor’s Center. It was mid-day, the sun was bright, and there were no clouds. So what … I started thinking black and white from the start. I walked around until I was able to frame “The Castle” with the two trees.
To me “The Castle” really did look like a castle overlooking the valley below. It was a good way to start my exploration of Capitol Reef National Park.
The sun was starting to set over the western rim of the valley. I was standing on a small rock outcropping. My focus was moving back and forth from the Temple of the Sun on my left and the Temple of the Moon on my right. The clouds were rapidly moving as the sun was setting, providing different levels of interest and shadows on the two “Temples”. I was hesitant to switch my composition from one to the other. I did anyway…
Walking into a narrow canyon in Capitol Reef National Park, I stopped and turned around to view the path I had taken. This tree was perfectly framed by the canyon walls and the cliff in the background. The shapes, colors, shadows and highlights created this image. All I had to do is place my tripod down and push the shutter. Nature is amazing.
My future bride wrote the following poem to describe how she felt when viewing the image
Growth is everywhere, even underneath the layers of rock where years of rain, wind, and river water color them a bright reddish, with lines and splashes of experience.
The tree winds and tangles to the sun as if it wants to be seen up where the air is clear and open, a place it stretches to yet cannot see.
It is a ghost-like journey, this quest to become. The journey, with its twists and branches, is the story that is not yet written, not yet told.
Sometimes I get lucky. Walking along the washes between the Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun in Capitol Reef, I looked east and saw a full moon rising over the horizon. I positioned myself west of the Temple of the Moon. I waited over an hour for the sky to darken and the moon to rise above the temple monolith. While waiting, I thought about the spiritual ramifications that were felt by the ancient native Americans thousands of years ago. It was well worth the wait.
Back to black and white. I photographed this image in the middle of my last afternoon at Capitol Reef. Who says you can’t create a good image in the middle of the day. It was a beautiful afternoon. The overhead sun lit up the Henry Mountains as well as provided nice shadows in the valley below. I had the point all by myself. It was a wonderful and peaceful feeling. Looking down at the cliff walls and valley below, I was experiencing over 100 million years of history. Human existence is pretty insignificant in the scheme of the natural wonders of our planet. Let us all protect it for future generations.
I recently completed a workshop with John Barclay and Mitch Dobrowner at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. This view is from a plateau cliff overlooking a valley 400-500 feet below. My knees were shaky as I got near the edge. My tripod saved me. First, it was a nice brace to have between me and the edge. And second, there was no way I could have hand-held a shot with my wobbly knees.
My focus for this workshop was to work on my black and white skills with Mitch Dobrowner. However, when I saw this variety of color, I could not pass the opportunity to share this experience in color.
The view from Skyline Point was breathtaking. It is a 270 degree panorama of a colorful unearthly landscape. The point is a sheer cliff falling down to the valley down below.. Approaching the point, one has no idea that the plateau stops abruptly to this scene.