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Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park, Utah

Navajo Sand Dunes (looking south from the rim of Canyon de Chelly)

Spirit Shadow, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Fiery Furnace “Flames” (Arches National Park, Utah)

This was taken with the 800mm f/4 lens for Pentax 6x7 but used with a 35mm Pentax. The lens itself weighs 40 pounds so it’s not something that can be pulled out at the last minute to be used; some degree of planning is required. Also, holding the 40 pounds on the tripod with one hand while trying to position one of the holes on the tripod screw and fastening it down takes some practice, especially if you intend to try it in the dark.

Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei (Monument Valley, Arizona)

This was a roughly 3.5-minute exposure and the intense colors are not visible to the eye because your color response decreases rapidly as it gets dark (which is why you don’t see vivid colors in a dark theater). Fortunately, film doesn’t have the same problem and can record the colors pretty much as they are over a longer period of time.

Grasslands Turning to Badlands (Badlands National Park, South Dakota). I think this shows very well the mechanism of erosion by water and wind from the flat grassland plains to the beautiful chaos of “badlands.”

Valley of the Gods (Utah)

Located just north of Mexican Hat, Utah, this “valley” doesn’t normally look especially interesting unless you drive halfway up the dirt switchback road “Mokee Dugway,” climbing over a thousand feet up a cliff heading toward Natural Bridges, and are lucky enough to have passing clouds cast just the right delineating shadows on the buttes, monuments and foreground.

Miles of buttes, monuments and ridges are shown in relationship to each other by the combination of magnification and light. The 135mm – 600mm zoom lens used is especially convenient in rapidly changing situations like this because the magnification can be rapidly adjusted to give the exact composition needed, making optimum use of the relatively small precious area of 35mm film.

I spent quite a bit of time at this spot waiting for just the right combination of shadows from clouds passing overhead. This is the only one of several shots that worked out just right — but you never know what you’re going to get so you just have to keep shooting, capturing scenes that are “pretty good” and hope that the perfect combination of light and shadows will come along before the light disappears.

I’d like to think that someone must have seen something very similar from nearly the same location and was inspired to give the area its name. I know I would have.

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