No Choices?

The water that formed the canyon in the Rocky Hollow Nature Preserve in Turkey Run State Park had no choice; it had to follow gravity.

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Following the path the water took backwards is like going back in time and being able to contemplate earlier choices.

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There are places where we seemed to have a choice which only turns out to be a detour. How should we know?

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Worse, there are also places that prevent us from going back further, dead ends of our past, inaccessible parts of our memory, like here in Devil’s Punchbowl.

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The further we go back, memory is being reduced to form. 

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Does it truly make sense to look into this lifeless past?

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Catch me later, says the leaf.

Exposed (10 years ago)

The word Steingrund appears in the title of a post that recollects a visit to Desolation Wilderness 25 years ago. 

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Reminiscing today about a visit to Turkey Run State Park 10 years ago let’s me use another word from the same poem.

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The word exposure includes visibility, fragility and presence, and the ominously dark landscape doesn’t seem to convey this, until you notice the cracks, traces of violence that happened here many thousand years ago, unmeasurable for us.

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Patient streams have smoothed the rock and created paths that can be walked best upstream, against time.

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Trees hold on to the rocks with roots like fingers for decades, while unknown plants seem to be ready to flee any minute.

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2008 Recap

Yes, that’s right. Let’s begin the year with a recap of not last year, but of 2008, the year 10 years ago.

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This year brought photographically two significant changes into my life: My move to full frame digital (and the ability to use a handful of SLR lenses I still had from film days), and the adjustment to the Indiana landscape.

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It is not that the Indiana landscape is featureless. It is more a assembly of countless insignificant features that tire the eyes, with occasional exceptions.

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Some are less obvious then others, but the only chance finding them is to look.

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Sometimes I am being asked why I bother carrying a heavy camera when there is nothing worth to photograph.

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Visiting some of the state parks has helped to open the eyes, like McCormicks Creek, Turkey Run, Shades, or Falls of the Ohio. This had been a good year.

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Trillium Grandiflorum

Spring this year was short, and so was the wildflower season.  

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This post is dedicated to the largest trillium in the state, the trillium grandiflorum. It is not particularly rare, but the large white flower petals whither quickly, and is a favorite food of the abundant deer population.  DSC 1292

Both the petals and leaves are deeply veined. The flower sits on a stem above the leaves, in contrast to the drooping trillium where it drops down below the leaves.

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One of the woodland trails in Turkey Run State Park has them usually in abundance, but only this year I saw them in their prime time.

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Little Things in Yellow and White and Green

The Turkey Run State Park has not only some of the most interesting rock formations in Indiana, but also an exciting vegetation.  Today we focus on the little things. Let begin with the liverworts (marchantiophyta), belonging to the bryophytes family. These bryophytes neither use roots nor make flowers, but interesting leave patterns. This stuff is what covers the rock formations, unless the rocks have been abused as slides. People should (i) look and (ii) think before they do their thing.DSC 1231

Here is another very little one I don’t know the name of. 

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Below, I think, is a buttercup flower, getting ready.DSC 1257

Unfortunately, searching for yellow with white hair is not very helpful. So I also don’t know what this one is called. But it does know about right angles and 5-fold symmetry.DSC 1258

Finally, another flowerless plant with pretty hair:DSC 1286

Points of Support

Three points make a triangle.

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After witnessing the remnants of the American democracy in free fall during this year’s election, I found some peace in contemplating the stability that is achieved by three points
on a long walk through Turkey Run State Park’s maze of canyons.

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Fall is almost over here, and the dead leaves and trees are awaiting the mercy of frost and snow.

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There is beauty still in all of this, maybe because it cannot be made a target of hatred.

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Let’s call this a prayer, if such thing still exists.

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Studies in Black and White

Turkey Run State Park has maybe three locations that define the park for me. They are both intensely beautiful and unique.
To capture the essence of a place it is often necessary to reduce it, to strip it from some aspects of its appearance. For instance, to distill the structure of a place, it can help to view everything in black and white.

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The first of my three places is at the suspension bridge over Sugar Creek. At the right time just after sunrise when the low sun brings the shore to maximal contrast, the wooden structures, rocks, and vegetation become equal contributions to a dazzlingly complex whole.

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Next there is Wedge Rock. Many times I have tried to capture it in its entirety, but I found it more appropriate to only hint at its size by showing a small portion of it. The three trees cover about as much area in the picture as the rock, and this balance emphasizes the contrast between the two so different main structural elements. On the other hand, they both contribute diagonals to the geometric flavor of the place.

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Then, still in Rocky Hollow Nature Preserve, the two main structural elements are the horizontal segments of the steps in the from and the background canyon wall in the back, and the vertical opening between the canyon walls. The function of the steps is not clear from this image. In wetter conditions, the canyon floor will be impassable due to water torrents, and the trail bypasses it on the right side of the wall. In any case, the two paths both give choices without a clear hint where these choices might lead.
The perceived equilibrium between the two choices is a photographic choice: The “heavier” path through the canyon is closer to the center, while the “lighter” steps are further to the side, creating a balance by weight on an imaginary scale. Also the lighter color of the stairs and their unexpected appearance trick the eye into spending equal amounts of time with both elements.

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The last picture is from a location that I hadn’t visited until recently. I find this image quite successfully spooky. The two main structural elements, the elegantly layered rocks in the front and the tree that dares to grow inside them both frame a third structural element, the black void just above the rocks. The almost artificial arrangement of rock and tree suggests that there is more to the place, putting a growing question mark into what we might think of as a cave entrance.