Monday, December 10, 2007

Like a Rock

The Guadalupe Mountains are hidden treasure. Yes, they are visually scenic, but they also have a great variety of different types of scenery to photograph. All that variety make for many different locations to set up your tripod. The eastern flanks of the Guadalupes are grassy but the south side of the mountains drop off into a lower elevation where it is much more rocky.

Many photographers have made images in the boulder field right near Highway US 180. There used to be a wonderful balanced rock in there that was a highlight of anyone trip. However, sometime in the last couple of years the rock fell or maybe was tipped. Rocks change in geologic time measured in millions of years so one has to wonder what happened.

Since I have photographed near the boulders there several times, I have been on the lookout for other rock fields that fewer people knew of. After some exploration and hiking on a few different trips, I have found a couple such areas that I thought would be great locations to make an image.

I drove around the mountain one afternoon, parked the vehicle, and started walking to the rocks. I sat my camera bag down at the rocks and started looking around. I wanted to find the best way to frame up these big boulders. Did I want to step back and frame them all? Maybe get very close and have just one rock to make the image? How about finding some flowers to put into the mix?

In the end I went with both a pattern of a fractured stone and a more distant grouping. Two compositions in an evening is a good day with a view camera. You can take hundreds of digital snaps in one night but I usually only expose a couple of sheets unless the light is dramatic. At the rocks I went to work on cracked and fractured rock pieces. A neat feature of the view camera is the ability to get right on top of an object and to put a very close and very far object into focus. I was able to place the camera lens a mere 6” from a fractured rock pattern and also get the distant peaks both in focus. It sounds complex but just took a little bit of tilt on the camera lens.

I made a couple images and kept waiting for the right light to make the perfect image. I waited, I watched, but the right light never really happened. It was a nice view an all but the light did not make the image what I hoped it could. So I enjoyed the view and planned to make it back here again sometime. After all, these are rocks and they aint going anywhere anytime fast.

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