A Book Of Days

February 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

We are a month into the new year and I have been busy finalizing my first book project. I am about to go to press with Red Rock Canyon - A Photographic Journey. This book has been in the making for almost 5 years now. When I first moved to Hinton, Oklahoma, I began a serious exploration of what this small state park had to offer. After so many seasons of work, I am now prepared to release this labor of love to the public. It had been my intention all along to create a book of this beautiful canyon, but felt that I would have to spend several years capturing all of the various aspects and seasons of the park. Further details will be coming shortly after I see the first proof copy next week. Stay tuned!

Book CoverBook CoverFinal Cover for Red Rock Canyon book 2014.


I have recently been spending a good deal of my photographic time down in the canyon, especially in the 'slough', or as it is known locally, the beaver pond. Due to a renovation and draining of the fishing pond (located elsewhere in the park), the area of the beaver dam has seen its water level drop to next to nothing. So I am going to share a few images of this place.

View Of The Beavor PondView Of The Beavor PondThis view is a wide-angle image of the entire beaver pond from a few months ago. The canyon continues around the bend to the left and the beaver dam is just out of the scene to the right.

"View Of The Beaver Pond"

This image shows most of the pond itself. The slough continues around the bend to the left, while the beaver dam is just out of the frame on the extreme right. This gives you a good idea of what it looks like from up on top. Created the end of November, this scene looks quite different in the Spring. All of the dead grasses down on the left are a vibrant green in Spring, and the pond surface is covered with electric green duckweed. The aqua color of the pond is a combination of the sky overhead and the pond's usual pea green color.

Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro Sd 17-35/4 FX ASPH @ 21 mm. ISO 200 @ f16 @ 1 second. Processed entirely in Lightroom 5. Two Graduated filters were used, one for the very top of the image to reduce exposure blowout, the other at a diagonal in the left hand corner to the edge of the rock lip to saturate the color there in keeping with the remainder of the foreground. White balance temp was adjusted to the right at 6417 from as shot 5560. A bit of contrast was added to the scene at +23, then the shadows were deepened just a bit to -11. Clarity was increased to +12, vibrance to +36, Luminence colors at red, orange, and aqua were increased slightly, and finally the overall exposure was reducced to -1.3, as the original was exposed to the right by one stop.

Down In The SloughDown In The Slough'There is beauty even in the most mundane'.

I have been spending quite a bit of my photographic time down in Red Rock Canyon lately. There have been some changes. Improvements they are called, but I will leave these for another time.

One result is that they have temporarily drained the fishing pond. This has created a low water level back in the slough, or swamp area, where the beavers have created a substantial dam. I can now walk right up to the dam itself, and as a result, I have been working down in this part of the canyon in an attempt to create some work that will not be easy to do after they fill the pond again.

The once vibrant green grasses that grow in the slough during the Spring have died for the Winter, creating a mat that one can walk upon. This mat is quite spongey, and is somewhat like walking upon a beds mattress. Occasionally, your foot will sink right through into mucky brown goo!

And then there is the smell! I will leave it to your imagination, but it is quite strong. The smell of years of decay is the best way to describe the sensation your nose experiences.

Yesterday evening, I had made the hike down into the slough once again. After dropping my pack, I took my camera with wide zoom attached and walked around for awhile, trying out various compositions, looking for that sometimes ellusive photograph that inspires me to do this day in and day out.

I was about to call it an evening, when I noticed a bit of
irridesence on a small patch of water. Voila! I had found
something that might work well for me. I composed the image with the express intention of making this pool of color the centerpiece of the scene. There was no color and no clouds in the sky, so I cropped the scene in camera to exclude the sky to prevent it from blowing out. What you see is the end result.

"Down In The Slough"

This image is from down in the slough proper on the other side of the beaver dam. During most of the year, when things are greener, if you tried walking in this area you would be up to your knees in muck! Due to the aforementioned draining of the fishing pond, this area has dried up a bit. Walking on these dead and dried grasses is a bit like walking on a mattress or a sponge. This scene is about 30 feet from the edge of the beaver dam. It was quite late in the afternoon when I came upon this scene. This small pool of water was full of both dead and living algae, some duckweed, and had a bit of an oily sheen to it. The smell in this area is one of decay. The sky was featureless and blown out from the imminent sunset, so I composed the scene without any sky.

Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro SD 17-35/4 @ 17 mm. ISO 200 @ f22 @ 5 seconds. Processed entirely in Lightroom 5. For this image, I increased the white balance to 6050 from the as shot 5560. Contrast increased to +24, highlights to -50 because the overhead sky made the grasses washed out and lifeless, clarity at +21, vibrance set to +55, orange saturation increased to +52 to bring the grasses to their actual color (like wet straw), blue saturation set to +44, and finally the exposure was increased to +0.1.

The Slough IIThe Slough IIThis image is of an area that I am not going to share, other than to say that it is in canyon country near my home town. The less traffic, the better. The sloping rim in the foreground is a vertical drop-off down about 70 feet.

"The Slough II"

This image was made last year in late Spring and shows you what this area looks like when all is green. At the top of the image is a vague line across the pond which is the beaver dam. Beyond the dam is the area where the previous image was created. You can see that in this image the area beyond the dam is filled with water.

Nikon D200 / Tokina At-X Pro 12-24/4 DX ASPH @ 20 mm. ISO 100 @ f20 @ 0.8 second. Processed entirely in Lightroom 4. This image took very little work to achieve the end result. The white balance was reduced slightly to 5357 from as shot 5560. No contrast was added, clarity was set at +36, vibrance at +34, orange saturation set at +76 to bring out the color in the rock wall and foreground, orange luminence set at +52 to take the edge off of the orange saturation (I couldn't get it right with just the saturation, so I played with both until I achieved a balance that looked correct to my eye), then green luminence set to +50 to lighten the green foliage. That's it.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour through one of my favorite parts of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Until next week, good light to you all!





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