Pic of the Week 2/20/20
“Dance of the Juniper”
Location: Copper Breaks State Park, TX
Date taken: 2/15/20
Well, I have been very busy over these past few weekends. I picked up my images from Amarillo and made a day visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, then I hiked a little over 10 miles in the Caprock Canyon State Park landscape, and over this past weekend I made a short trip to Copper Breaks State Park for a scouting trip and some hiking as well—although this was not a 10 mile hike.
Normally, I visit Copper Breaks during the milky way season. In fact, one of my best photos/views of the milky way was captured there. But I wanted to explore new possible locations and compositions for milky way and astro-landscape photography. Scouting is considerably easier during the daytime. After work on Saturday, I gathered up my gear, my roommate, and my beautiful girlfriend and we drove down to Copper Breaks. Our goal was to inspect some campsites high up on one of the ridges. We also explored some areas around the Big Pond.
With the bulk of the work done, it was now time to enjoy a leisurely hike around Bull Canyon. We started the hike and explored more compositions and marveled at the fascinating geology the trail has to offer. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to make our way back to the car. Along the way we missed the sunset, but as we ascended the western rim of Bull Canyon we came to an overlook. A soft warm light reflected off the canyon rim and made the sandstone glow with a pink hue. As we walked the rim, I spotted a Juniper tree dangling on the cliff edge. The sandstone around it had eroded leaving a lot of the roots exposed. The tree was clinging to the cliff for its life and the contorted twisting shape of it made me think of a complicated dance move.
Perhaps the must unusual thing about this image, is how I decided to capture it. I did everything the opposite of what I “normally” use for landscape photography. I used my telephoto lens instead of wide angle. This allowed me to focus in entirely on the tree and simplify the composition. I used a very wide aperture giving only the critical focus on my subject. Usually, I try to get everything in the scene in sharp focus. But the shallow depth of field really separated the tree from the busy background and gives the photo a dream-like mood. Since I was so zoomed in I shot a multi-image panorama of this scene. It would have been so much easier to shoot it wide and just crop in, but multi-image stitch gives me a much higher resolution photo. You can see all the little details in this image. My favorite detail would be the rust stain the roots have accrued from wind blow dirt.
Little things are important in scenes like this, and its very appropriate for Copper Breaks. Sure the park may not be as vast as Palo Duro Canyon or have as grand geologic formations like Caprock Canyons, but Copper Breaks does have its own subtle beauty. Its in the details, these little vignettes, that you can find scenes like this that reveal all the natural beauty of the park. I was very excited to start working on this image once I got home and I was even more excited that I captured a unique photo (at least for me) of a very unique state park.