Arches National Park: Balanced Rock

April 1, 2013 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Delicate Arch from Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Delicate Arch from Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Arches National Park

During this hectic month we focus on a small snapshot of one of our favorite parks Arches National Park, specifically angles of Balanced Rock.  We even let the cats take a short, and well-deserved break from their endless photo shoots.

Arches National Park was originally created as a National Monument in April of 1929, it was later designated a National Park in April of 1971. There are over 2,000 natural sandstone arches in the park although 43 have collapsed since 1970 due to erosion. The geological history of the area started almost 300 million years ago when a salt bed was deposited by a sea that then slowly evaporated. Next a layer of sandstone (the Navajo layer) was deposited during the Jurassic period and then the Entrada layer of sandstone. Almost all of the sediments deposited since those two layers of sandstone have worn away to reveal the arches and spires of the sandstone. The area was discovered and promoted as tourist destination by many people and originally started as two separate locations that were later combined. One of the original promoters, Alexander Ringhoffer, had originally named the Klondike Bluffs as the Devil’s Garden.

Balanced Rock stands to the left of other sandstone structures that dot the land in Arches National Park.  The La Sal Mountains are in the distance.

Balanced Rock stands to the left of other sandstone structures that dot the land in Arches National Park. The La Sal Mountains are in the distance.

Balanced Rock is atop a thin layer of lighter-colored sandstone.  Eventually, that sandstone layer will erode away.

Balanced Rock is atop a thin layer of lighter-colored sandstone. Eventually, that sandstone layer will erode away.

Here's the problem - only that thin layer of sandstone keeps Balanced Rock from tumbling down and joining all the other large boulders around Arches National Park.

Here’s the problem – only that thin layer of sandstone keeps Balanced Rock from tumbling down and joining all the other large boulders around Arches National Park.

Working low to the ground with a wide angle lens gives a different perspective.  Stopping down to f16 keeps everything sharp.  There's a problem though - the vignetting in the corners comes from the edges of the polarizing filter showing up in the image.  Shooting at the widest angle, 10mm, wasn't our friend here.

Working low to the ground with a wide angle lens gives a different perspective. Stopping down to f16 keeps everything sharp. There’s a problem though – the vignetting in the corners comes from the edges of the polarizing filter showing up in the image. Shooting at the widest angle, 10mm, wasn’t our friend here.

Closing the wide angle lens from 10mm to 12mm here keeps the polarizing filter out of the corners.  But polarizers on a wide angle lens can change their effect over such a wide swath of sky - it's almost black at the top and evens out at the horizon.

Closing the wide angle lens from 10mm to 12mm here keeps the polarizing filter out of the corners. But polarizers on a wide angle lens can change their effect over such a wide swath of sky – it’s almost black at the top and evens out at the horizon.

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Taking a break from blogging

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Me too.

Sandstone arches are essentially shapes worn by wind and water and then destroyed by more of the same. The sandstone itself is generally harder than the surrounding sediments and so the elements erode the softer rocks before attacking the sandstone.

Balanced Rock

A polarizing filter brings out the blue sky but it’s the small blue shirt of the photographer in the foreground that gives scale to Balanced Rock. You can see Balanced Rock from quite a distance and can walk right up to it as well. Picking your angle is important. Next time, I will go a bit further to the left to get a good definition on all sides of Balanced Rock and make the overhang more prominent

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Entry filed under: Landscape, Photography. Tags: , , , .

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