“Brown Fragments & White Hoodoos”

Brown Fragments & White Hoodoos, Bisti Badlands, NW New Mexico (c) Mike Utley

D43-1(S)—Brown Fragments & White Hoodoos, 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 spent an afternoon here a few years ago exploring this remarkable and relatively unknown area about forty miles south of Farmington in northwest New Mexico. Late-evening sunlight drew out the detail in the textures of this barren place of white hoodoos and brown rock fragments. This is a bizarre location. In the midday sun, the rocks are so white it’s painful to look at them. And it’s a good thing it’s a small area because it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinthine confines of the white sandstone formations. In this image, I found remnants of what appeared to be several eroded boulders scattered about, and the russet color contrasted nicely with the white sandstone. The side-lighting created long shadows that gave depth to the scene, and the 24mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens I used created the impression of the hoodoos stretching to infinity. There’s an alien feeling to the Bisti Badlands, an otherworldly sensation of being in an ancient land of living rock. And even though I’m nearly totally deaf, the silence of the place was surreal. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

45 thoughts on ““Brown Fragments & White Hoodoos”

    1. Thanks, David. I lived in Farmington, NM for four years in the late-’80s but never heard of this place, either. It wasn’t until I got into photography in 1995 that I found out about it and checked it out. It’s been on my list of places to visit again but I haven’t been able to make it hack there. It’s a startling, dramatic area and I’d love to check it out again. 🙂

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    1. Many thanks, Daphny. I’m also reminded of the lunar landscape when I think of this place. It’s so weirdly beautiful. Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m delighted that you enjoy my photography. I love sharing it. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Diana. I agree–this planet is really beyond unique. I was only there for one afternoon and as such didn’t get to see everything. Upon googling this place, the weirdness increases by an order of magnitude. There are some gravity-defying hoodoos and other enigmatic features I’d love to photograph if I get the chance. That’s the problem with having only a few hours to explore a new place–so much goes unseen. Thanks as always for your kindness and support. 🙂

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Filipa. Goodness, I just googled the Canary Islands and I had no idea there are such dramatic landscapes there! I would LOVE to visit them! You’re so fortunate to have lived near such beauty. Those islands look like a different planet. Stunning! I truly appreciate your kind words. Your photography and writing are amazing, too! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Mark. The colors were remarkable in how there were brilliant white and dark brown areas in such close proximity. Behind me, as I made this image, was a dark russet-colored hill (mudstone, perhaps) with rocks and boulders of various sizes, and I’m guessing a couple of them strayed from their perches in the distant past and rolled downhill into the white sandstone hoodoos and then fell apart over time. I like how the side-lighting makes tiny imperfections on the ground stand out–it reminds me of rough-grit sandpaper. Thanks for the kind comment, good sir! 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Jeff. It gives me hope that even in such a fraught time in which we now live, this planet can still surprise us with inspiring and unexpected landscapes (even weird ones like this). I always appreciate your wonderful support and encouragement, Jeff. Thanks again! 🙂

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  1. It does look like another planet. An ocean of hoodoos till the horizon. It must have been so enchanting to be there and feel the vibes and soak in the surreal atmosphere. You have definitely taken advantage of the light in this shot, Mike. Would have never known this had you not shared it. Thanks so much for this awesome opportunity. 🙂

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    1. You’re seriously too kind, Terveen! 🙂 There are other locations in this general area (southwest USA) with similar features but I’ve never visited them (Bryce Canyon National Park and Goblin Valley State Park in Utah come to mind). There’s something about desert landscapes that is alien even without weird stone formations. It’s the sterile heat, the silence, the hardpan, the rocks, and the meager life clinging to existence. So harsh, yet beautiful. Your wonderful comments are so appreciated. Thanks again! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. It has a lunar feel to it, for sure. Wandering around Bisti that day was a strange experience. So quite, so hot, so bright (the sunlight on the white rocks and sand was brutal), but it was worth it. All that was missing was E.T. poking his big ol’ noggin from around a hoodoo, asking to borrow a quarter to phone home! (a joke…barely) 😀

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    1. Thank you, good sir! I truly appreciate your constant support. It means a lot to me and keeps me going. I’m happy to know you found this one appealing. Many thanks! 🙂

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    1. Hey, Lamittan. I’m still here. Just feeling overwhelmed with a few things and had to retreat into my cocoon for a while. Being extremely introverted and dealing with major depression and PTSD really causes problems for me. It’s like hitting a brick wall at 100 mph. Everything just sort of…stops. I’m trying to find my bearings again. Thanks for your kind concern, my friend. It means so much to me. Hopefully I can get back on the road to blogging again soon. Thanks for checking in on me. I appreciate it.

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