“Rock Formation & Moon at Dusk”

Rock Formation & Moon at Dusk, Bisti Badlands, NW New Mexico (c) Mike Utley

D38-1(S)—Rock Formation & Moon at Dusk, Bisti Badlands, NW New Mexico
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a sprawling badlands featuring fascinating formations known as hoodoos. These strange formations appear as spires, pillars and other twisted shapes, and consist of sandstone, mudstone, silt, coal and shale. Fossils can be found as well. “Bisti” and “De-Na-Zin” are Navajo for “a large area of shale hills” and “cranes,” respectively. (info courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management) I explored this region one day and was amazed at the various shapes and colors of the place. This image is a strange one, however, not because of the rock formations, but due to the bizarre rendering of the evening sky. I used a 24mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens with a polarizer to capture this scene at dusk. A polarizer is a filter that eliminates glare and reflections from surfaces, increases color saturation and contrast, and removes atmospheric haze. Anyone who has worn polarized sun glasses understands this effect. The combination of a polarizer and a wide-angle lens can create some odd sky properties, however, and this can be used for artistic effect as it was here. During the morning and evening hours, the sky displays a range of tones. Wide-angle lenses capture a large swath of the sky and tend to exaggerate this. A polarizer further dramatizes this by darkening sections of the sky by means of eliminating haze, depending on the angle of the lens axis in relationship to the light source. The result can be quite disconcerting, as pictured here. To me, this represents an alien landscape under unfamiliar skies. This same scene without the polarizing effect would be completely different and lack the character this image offers. To top it all off, the moon is depicted as a mere pinprick due to the wide-angle lens, creating a distant, apathetic and lonely feel in the scene. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

21 thoughts on ““Rock Formation & Moon at Dusk”

  1. This is in every way gorgeous 😍. I love the gloomy shades cast upon the formation and the golden clouds in the distance. Quite depicts a sad situation but knit with great hopes. The rock formation looks like a mass of people who’ve come to stick together during a hard time and who hold much hope for brighter days. Actually, they seem to be facing the direction of their source of hope. Amazing how natural phenomena can speak in different beautiful and strong ways. This is a good photo, my friend Mike. Personally I love it. 🤗

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    1. Thanks, Lamittan. I can definitely see what you’re getting at here. It does look like a huddled group of people in need of hope and encouragement as they face the light of the distant moon. Your imagination always adds new and interesting layers to the photos I post and I always enjoy reading what your creative mind conjures up. Thanks as always for your ever-present support. 🙂

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  2. This really looks like an alien landscape. The rock formations remind me of some huge alien creature that’ll start shifting and moving any second. And I can see what you mean by the contrasting tones in the sky. It’s like a color palette is on display. You are really good at capturing images and even better at explaining them in your beautiful and interesting words. Awesome Mike! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Terveen. Glad you liked this one. This is such a strange place. It’s not large in terms of area, and many of the hoodoos are small (this particular formation was about three feet tall). It’s out in the middle of nowhere. But man, is it weird and interesting, and it sparked my sci-fi-loving mind in to overdrive. I half-expected to see the xenomorph from the Alien movies prowling about (or stalking me). 🙂

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    1. Thank you kindly, Daphny. I really had a fun time that day and made several memorable images, but this image just stands out in my mind because of its otherworldly atmosphere and the weird sky. Thanks a bunch for your kind words of support! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Jane. It’s indeed a strange sky, and those blues are surreal! When I received the slides back and viewed them on my light box, I was sort of stunned at the bizarre nature of the sky, but it works because the rock formations are so odd, too. Glad you enjoyed this one. 🙂

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