Black Basalt Ball & Navaho Sandstone Dome

Black Basalt Ball & Navaho Sandstone Dome

full print size of 29.6x37.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2005   view detailed crop

geranium Capitol Reef National Park, Wayne County, Utah
mid morning Wednesday May 20, 2005, slide 05-L-29
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Caltar, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature mid lower left          

Originally I had plans to climb up to the location of this dome on the second morning of our 22 day Utah trip in May of 2005. I had taken a similar shot with 35mm gear in 1995. However a cold storm was forecast to move in so we re-evaluated the itinerary and we instead went elsewhere hoping blue skies would be more likely later. After the storm passed we were on our way east to Moab when skies began looking nicely blue. Thus we again re-evaluated and decided to go back west to Capitol Reef.

The next morning we rose at dawn to a sunny day, packed up our road camping gear, and drove to a spot in Capitol Reef National Park I had used a decade earlier. We followed the class 3 route I had figured out in 1995. I had forgotten how difficult it was in places. There were not even signs of deer or desert sheep in the area. It was taking a bit more time than I'd hoped so we had to push in order to reach the dome before the sun got too high in the sky making light harsh. When we finally reach the area that has multiple unnamed domes, I was a bit bewildered at first trying to figure out where exactly I had taken the old shot. But soon I saw the unmistakably nice round ball. With sweat dripping off our foreheads, we rapidly framed and set up. I made an extra effort to make sure my ground glass was critically focused in all areas. Since I had a near foreground, including the black boulder, I needed to tilt the front standard some for best overall focus. Setting the exposure was another gamble because the bright white sandstone and dark basalt rocks were particularly contrasty. Fortunately Provia films contrasty scenes well if one shoots while the sun is not too high in the sky.

So I just exposed a bit under for ambient light typical of that time of day, EV14.8, and took a second rare bracketing shot at EV14.6. The first sheet came out fine.

Light pastel Navaho Sandstone was deposited over a wide region from blowing sand during desert conditions about 200 million years ago during the Triassic Period. An age when early dinosaurs wandered, from which Utah has several important fossil sites. Notice in the foreground, mottled patterns of lichen painting the sandstone give the light rock a beautiful aesthetic. And some lichen patches have even colonized shady sides of the loose basalt rocks. The elevation here is a bit below 7,000 feet. At the right edge skyline, one can see white snow atop the volcanic 11,000 plus foot Aquarius Plateau twenty miles west. During glacial periods of the past recent few million years, black basalt rock was carried down in this direction by ice and Fremont River flow coming to rest over much of the Fremont River canyon within Capitol Reef. Basalt is a relatively heavy iron rich soft rock, which readily eroded into rounded shapes during the journey so one can find many scenes in the park adorned with these contrasting rocks. Gas within the cooling basalt lava caused it to be porous full of tiny holes. When I compared this image to the one taken a decade earlier, it was amazing how almost all the black rocks, including the small ones appeared to still be in essentially the same spots despite years of wind and storms.

Crop at 100% print size:


   David Senesac

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