Too Wide?

When I started using an SLR, I had just two lenses: A 28-85mm zoom, and a 20mm wide angle lens. That was too wide for me, back then,
and it took me a while to appreciate it.

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When I moved on to a DSLR, one of the first new lenses I bought was Nikon’s 14-24mm zoom. That was something else, and again it took me many years to make use of the wider end of it.

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This year, I decided to push myself again, and I acquired an 11mm lens.

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This lens works like the news these days: It shows a distorted reality. If you want the truth, look elsewhere.

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But, as with the news these days, the distortion is so extreme, that we are never tricked into believing it is real. It is more a provocation.

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The benefit? Maybe we can learn to resist to undergo this distortion ourselves. Or is the remaining path too narrow?

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Out of Order

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I don’t get often to Nevada. The last time was in March 2015, flying into Las Vegas to drive north to Zion. We spent a night and a day in Moapa Valley to visit the Valley of Fire State Park. Both town and state park completely cured me of all prejudices I had about Nevada. Moapa Valley is a small relaxed community with lots of local artists and friendly people, and the Valley of Fire State Park is an amazing piece of landscape that is on my list of places to return to.

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Typical views are like the ones above, and full of interesting details. Can you spot the head below in the image above?

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Everything here is created by light and shadow, and changes within minutes.

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One can go instantly from harsh contrast to soft pastell. You would think a landscape like this can cure every ailment of the soul.

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From there, on our way north, we passed through another little town: Mesquite, Nevada, not even 40 miles northeast. Little did we know about what had taken residence there a few months earlier, brooding, breeding the incomprehensible.

In Memoriam, once more: Las Vegas, October 1, 2017.

Another Form of Recovery

After a long summer, when heat, humidity and bugs are slowly retreating, it is time to visit some old friends, like here in the canyon of McCormick’s Creek State Park.

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The plan was to capture some of the spots I remembered so that they appear like my memories. The lens of choice was the Lensbaby Velvet which wide open blurs the landscape into oblivion. There is, for instance, the wonderfully maturing tree trunk which I had first seen as a still healthy but otherwise unremarkable tree,
or the overhanging tree that (against all odds) has survived this year one of T.

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There are also the long views into the canyon that seem to support direction and focus, but instead limit choice.

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Another trunk (near the sacred spring) has been sprouting new life – not a miracle, but symbol for resistance.

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Of course there are also the frames I have written about before I am sure but can’t find anymore – – –

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Things become clear when I encounter new friends, like this unlikely pile of rocks in the middle of the stream.

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Resources? (Cave River Valley II)

The main attraction of the Cave River Valley Natural Area are not so much its signs of abondonment, but rather its caves and rock formations.

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The area was acquired at some point by the Nature Conservancy, and then possession was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources of Indiana, who had created a site management plan that is an interesting document in many respects.

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It explains in detail what the DNR planned to do with the area, and what the costs would be. The plan did not move forward much, be it because of budget problems, be it because of myotis sodalis, the endangered Indiana Bat.

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The bat uses the Endless Cave above and below as a hibernaculum (I need one, too!). Plans to take busloads of spelunkers through the extensive caves in the area would possibly run afoul of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act from 1988.

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So the Department of Natural Resources put up a handful of signs and dumped truckloads of gravel on a pathway that was supposed to give access to campsites for up to 120 people. Hmmm.

Then, they abandoned the site, once again.

It is, however, as I hope the pictures are hinting, of some beauty.

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Abandonment (Cave River Valley I)

The hilly and not so fertile landscape of southern Indiana offered the early settlers enough room to get by, after the natives had been – what is the euphemism these days – deported?

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With a bit of luck you could find yourself a stream in a little valley,

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plant some corn, get a mill running, raise kettle, build a small house, and live your life.

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One can find traces of old settlements along almost any small creek, and the common pattern is that they have been abandoned at some point.

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One cause was the Great Depression that forced many people to move into the cities to find work. But whatever the cause, the fact that there are so many abandoned places paints a picture quite different from the often claimed steady progress, and thus of different times to come.

New inhabitants are ready to move in any day.

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A good example for all this is the Cave River Valley Natural Area, close to Spring Mills State Park, where today’s pictures are from. It’s story will continue next week.

Mutual Resistance (DePauw Nature Park II)

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A while ago, I posted pictures from the DePauw Nature Park. The area is still haunting me, photographically. The place offers a large variety of motives,

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and each image seems to demand its own treatment by choice of format, color space, and other adjustments.

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After several visits, I ended up with a fair amount of decent pictures, without a common theme besides being taken at the same location. It is as if this place attempts to resist any categorization.

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Here I am countering this stubbornness with a reduction to simplicity. The images are all square and black & white.

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But again, the place beats me with views like this, of undecipherable complexity. The dialogue will continue.

Eclipse

In 1999, I had my first chance to witness a solar eclipse. That was in Bonn, Germany, and only a partial eclipse. It was very partial, because the sky was cloudy.

Now, in 2017, I didn’t feel like driving for three hours to get stuck in a traffic jam. So instead I contented myself with another partial eclipse and went to Brown County State Park.

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The view from the fire tower was a little eery because the sky was significantly darker. Capturing the eclipse with a wide angle lens is a little silly, but safe for eye and camera.

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Using a tele lens is danegerous, never look through the camera at the sun even with a strong neutral density filter. I used a 10 stop filter on a 300mm lens. This turned out not be quite enough to darken the sun, but one can now at least see the eclipse (and it didn’t fry my camera).

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My main interest, however, was how my favorite lakefront at Strahl Lake that I have photographed (too?) many times would look like during the eclipse.

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