Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rocks in my eyes

I love textures: fabric, bark, the surfaces of leaves, skin. Texture is everywhere in nature. As an undergraduate student in geology I was trained to identify rocks and minerals partly by their texture. Is it smooth, sandy, crystalline, fractured in a particular way? Geologists get many chances to examine rocks closely.

Sometimes my photography mimics my geology field work. I'm drawn to the textures and surfaces of exposed rocks and the way light plays over them; it spans two of my areas of interest. It accounts for much of the time I spend at Great Falls, Maryland, one of my favorite locations. There are miles of trails through exposed metamorphic rocks, which are not always easy to find in our verdant eastern woodlands.

It's ironic that in the midst of this lush spring, the shots I liked best from my latest trip to Great Falls are of rocks. I even rendered them in black and white, which has been diverting me recently. It seemed to enhance the textures and shadows, whereas the color versions looked a bit ho-hum. The first image is a vertical rock face shadowed by overhead branches. The geologist sees a hint of conchoidal fracture, typical of hard fine-grained rock, and at least two cleavage directions. The biologist would, I suppose, see the splotchy lichens. The second image shows an arrowhead-shaped void partly filled with fine sand and shell fragments. Fractures and much erosion formed the void into a pleasing shape. At the top of the void is a quartz vein that may have contributed to the fracture. Puffy lichen clouds fill the stone sky above it. I was tempted to title it Time's Arrow, as a nod to the geological notion of time, but I don't much go for interpretive names.

Rockface and Shadow

Sand-filled Rock Void

The details:  (Rockface) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/160 sec. at f/9, ISO 800, 36mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

(Sand-filled Void) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/80 sec. at f/9, ISO 800, 50mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

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