Tag Archives: rock

Waterpocket Fold Terrain

Waterpocket Fold Terrain
Deep erosion gullies below an uplifted rock band empty into the valley below, with rugged terrain extending into the distance

Waterpocket Fold Terrain. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Deep erosion gullies below an uplifted rock band empty into the valley below, with rugged terrain extending into the distance

Until a few years ago, although I had heard the term “waterpocket fold” before, I was almost completely unaware of what this geological feature is. Since that time I have visited it several times. On the first occasion I visited the area, but I still did not understand the geology. I “got it” that there was some sort of uplift — the land rising to the west of Capitol Reef was a pretty good clue — but I did not understand or really see any of the connections. I recall stopping at one road side pullout and seeing a sign about it, registering that it is something important, but not really understanding.

On more recent visits the reality of this huge and striking feature has finally sunk in. I began to see it a few years ago on a trip that took we away from main roads and way up on a rocky ridge from which I could look down into the eastern valley and clearly see some of the larger patterns — sinuous lines of angled rock, the valley twisting gently into the distance in the south. On the most recent visit it began to make a lot more sense, as I noticed features like the shadowed cliff band across the center of this photograph, which more or less represents the remaining underside of a layer that long ago continued on up into what today would be the sky. Its edge overhangs the softer material below, though it still erodes into the bottom of the valley. Further to the east in this photograph the impossibly rugged terrain of arid strata continues, eventually rising to a mountain range in the far distance.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Redrock Country, Near Fruita

Redrock Country, Near Fruita
Cliffs and eroded towers near Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park

Redrock Country, Near Fruita. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 20, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Cliffs and eroded towers near Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park

I’m a sucker for juxtapositions of mountains and cliffs, and sunlit and shadowed surfaces. (In fact, “juxtaposition” is a word I think about a lot when making photographs.) This part of the world provides these juxtapositions with a vengeance. Everywhere in the red rock country of the Southwest there are sandstone walls, lined up, building one on top of the other, standing in front of and behind each other, layered with eroded rock and soil, standing above valleys and beyond lower ridges.

We had only a brief time to photograph on this first afternoon in Capitol Reef National Park. I had arrived in the middle of the afternoon and then busied myself with setting up a tent and a few other camp chores, plus catching up on the news with my friend Dave. By the time all of these important things had been taken care of the sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon, so we quickly headed to a nearby area to see what sort of late-day light we could find. Literally within minutes of leaving our campground (which is just to the right of the shadowed trees visible in the lower part of the photograph) we came upon this intense and saturated late-day light, with shadows starting to stretch across the valley and the low foreground ridges.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant

Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant
A lone plant grows in a crack in sculpted Utah canyon sandstone

Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant. Utah. October 19, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A lone plant grows in a crack in sculpted Utah canyon sandstone

These canyons feel isolated from the rest of the outside world. In the narrow sections, the only view of the familiar world may be a small strip of sky directly overhead. The tall canyon walls, which may be only feet apart, block any view of the surrounding terrain, and the focus of my attention narrows down to the section of the canyon where I find myself, the walls where I stand a some short distance ahead before the canyon twists out of sight.

Not only are we visually cut off from the outside, but we are also isolated acoustically. No sound makes it down into the bottoms of the canyons from the above. In the canyon there may be the sounds of quietly flowing water, and perhaps the tinkling sound of water dropping over rocks. A bird may sing. The sound of my footsteps echoes between the walls. In this spot, daytime sunlight high above bounced between the canyon walls, diffusing until a wash of soft red-tinted light reached the canyon bottom. Horizontal layers had eroded at varying rates, a jagged crack cut the canyon wall vertically, and one plant grew in the crack.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Canyon Walls, Plant

Canyon Walls, Plant
A long plant grows from sandstone walls deep within a Utah slot canyon

Canyon Walls, Plant. Utah. October 19, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A lone plant grows from sandstone walls deep within a Utah slot canyon

I had the opportunity to spend a significant period of time photographing in Utah back in October of 2014. Although I got a late start with Utah (only photographing there for the first time a few years ago) I have been doing my best to make up for lost time. I’ve spent between a month and a month and a half there in total over the past couple of years. During that time I have come to love autumn in the canyons. Oh, heck, I think I love autumn just about anywhere in Utah!

I walked into this canyon early on last fall’s trip. I had arrived at my first Utah stopover place the night before, looked at a map, and figured I might find something interesting in this general area. (I’m not always a careful advanced planner, preferring to wing it depending on the light and my mood.) The walk began in terrain that was more of a wash than a canyon, but before long the sandstone walls closed in and narrowed and I was walking through slots. The light in such places can be magical at the right moments, usually when the sun rises high enough in the sky to project into the upper reaches of the canyon, where it bounces and diffuses as it fills the canyon below with saturated light.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream
Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small rock-filled stream wanders along the bottom of a deep Utah red rock canyon

Yet another bend in yet another Utah canyon! We had hiked a good distance down into the depths of this canyon, finally stopping (most of us, anyway) at a scenic bend with lots of interesting photographic subjects. We held up there to make photographs, to sit and talk, and to eat. A few of us went a bit farther and some went a good distance more, but soon we had all checked our watches and realized it was time to start back..

This spot is just below a narrow section of the canyon where the water flows through a narrow cleft and around a big curve. Here, below that section, it seems like the flow must slow a bit, since a few more trees manage to grow here and the bed of the creek held a lot of river rocks and silt. In the distance the canyon curves more toward the west, and this allows a bit more light down into the canyon, producing a bit of a glow ahead.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Red Rock and Roots

Red Rock and Roots
Red Rock and Roots

Red Rock and Roots. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. October 23, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Long roots extend across Utah sandstone

This was a sort of casual photograph, made while wandering around near our backcountry camp in southern Utah. We arrived in the afternoon, set up camp, and had a bunch of time to kill — time to eat, make plans, hang out, hike, take a nap, and explore. I probably did a bit of all of those things, but eventually decided to take my smaller camera and wander off into the surrounding countryside.

Eventually I ended up ascending a sandstone hill, and from the top I had open views of the surrounding terrain. But the closer subjects were perhaps even more interesting — the curving shapes of the sandstone, the small hollows that were filled with red sand, the plants trying to eke out a living in this spare and rocky area. In several places I found plants that had sent roots or stems over great distances across bare rock, perhaps trying to find pockets of water or moist soil.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn
Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn. Southern Utah. October 26, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A grove of autumn cottonwood trees in Utah red rock country

After a few days “in the field” in a remote southern Utah location with a group of friends, I left our camp and headed back out to what passes for civilization in this part of Utah. Truth be told, by the end of the day I arrived in a quite civilized place! After driving a bit I ended up in the town of Boulder, where I was to meet my cousin and her husband to share dinner and conversation. But I arrived a bit early, so I decide to explore a bit first.

I headed right on through Boulder and onto the Burr Trail route, following it for a few miles to an overlook where the road descends into a long canyon. I arrived at close to the perfect date to see brilliant colors from autumn cottonwood trees in this valley — although the color peak may have come a few days earlier, I like the combination of colorful trees and the skeletal shapes of partially bare trees. This little valley has a flat bottom, and the trees grew across its width and right up the red rock cliff on the opposite side.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.