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.

One thought on “Studies in Black and White”

  1. I just wanted to say that you have an awesome blog and write about cool things (and I love the photos!). I’ve shared it with my sister, I think she’ll find it interesting too.

    Her and I go on “hikes” (more like “walks”) on the East Esker trail from time to time at Mendon Ponds in Western NY and it’s awesome. A few months ago, in the Fall, we drove down to Watkin’s Glen (link below) and walked that as well. I’m interested in hiking in places that you write about, however, and I would like to eventually leave the NY area for the SW.


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