Ancient Ruins

Nankoweap Granaries

Nankoweap Granaries

Nankoweap Granaries

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The Nankoweap Trail is considered the hardest of all the named trails in the Grand Canyon, with a vertical drop just shy of 6000′ and an almost year round lack of water it is not to be taken lightly. I’ve hiked this 22 mile trail twice, both times from the trailhead on the north rim. Trail descriptions suggest this is a mostly waterless trail, that was certainly my experience. The trail is not recommended for people with a fear of heights. The majority of hikers take two days to complete the journey, spending the night on the way down at either Marion Point or Tilted Mesa; to do so requires carrying plenty of extra water.

My biggest fear was leaving my car overnight in a remote area, therefore I would hike down and back out in a single day. I took this image in the blue hour. The ruins are reconstructed so I felt it was justifiable to illuminate them with candles.

I was fortunate to capture the last light from a setting sun on a cumulonimbus cloud. My return was made under headlamp in the dark but cooler hours.


Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Meteor Shower

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I was driving north through Nevada when I got an email from a friend asking if I had any plans to shoot the Perseid Meteor Shower, I hadn’t given it much thought, but a quick check told me the meteor shower would peak around 11th to the 13th August, after checking the sun/moon feature on my handheld GPS I noted these dates coincided with a new moon. I was close to the small town of Ely Nevada, which is just south of America’s loneliest highway 50, and one of the least light polluted places in Nevada. I decided to shoot the Ward Charcoal Ovens, with an altitude over 7000ft, and very little light pollution, it was perfect for star photography.

The ovens are a bygone relic from the silver mining industry, I felt they would make an ideal foreground subject where I could hopefully shoot the Milky Way and capture some meteors in the scene. I managed to get the perfect position for the Milky Way, however, the meteors were shooting through the sky at a different angle. I left the camera to shoot time lapse and just crossed my fingers that i’d get one or more meteors in the frame. After setting the camera to shoot continual 20 second exposures I sat back and drank coffee. Several hours of shooting produced four meteors, I decided to blend in three meteors with an image taken when the Milky Way was at the optimal position. The star positions were not changed, neither was the position of the Milky Way.


The Glowing Granary

The Glowing Granary

The Glowing Granary

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In about 1250 many ancient Puebloan people began constructing settlements high in the cliffs of southern Utah and northern Arizona —settlements that offered defense and protection. These villages, well preserved by the dry climate and by stone overhangs, led the Anglo explorers who found them in the 1880s to name the absent builders the Cliff Dwellers. Nobody quite knows why during the latter part of  13th century, some cataclysmic event forced the Anasazi to leave their cliff houses and their homeland and to move south and east toward the Rio Grande and the Little Colorado River. The accepted belief is that a series of droughts led to fighting, even cannibalism.

I found this ruin with its roof of tafoni sandstone  particularly photogenic.

The Burn

Roof on Fire!

The Golden Granary

The Golden Granary


Machu Pichu by half moonlight

Machu Pichu by half moonlight.

Machu Pichu by half moonlight.

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I had the good fortune to visit Machu Pichu 100 years after it was officially discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. I was only able to shoot for one night, thankfully that evening there was a little less than a half moon. The moonlight created natural lighting whilst still allowing me to shoot for the stars. I pushed my processing ethics here, during the evening I was only able to capture twelve consecutive exposures, whereas I needed 30 or more for a star rotation. In order to create a better image I decided to blend in some images from another star rotation. The stars really do rotate in this position so I felt it was acceptable to do this.

 

 


Fallen Roof Ruin

Fallen Roof Ruin

Fallen Roof Ruin

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In about 1250 many ancient Puebloan people began constructing settlements high in the cliffs of southern Utah and northern Arizona —settlements that offered defense and protection. These villages, well preserved by the dry climate and by stone overhangs, led the Anglo explorers who found them in the 1880s to name the absent builders the Cliff Dwellers. Nobody quite knows why during the latter part of  13th century some cataclysmic event forced the Anasazi to leave their cliff houses and their homeland and to move south and east toward the Rio Grande and the Little Colorado River. The accepted belief is that a series of droughts led to fighting, even cannibalism.

 


The Treasury

The Treasury

The Treasury

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The ancient ruins of Petra Jordan, as seen from a high vantage point. This Wikipedia article gives an in depth explanation for the construction and history of the area.

I spent a week in Petra at a time when Syria was just beginning to suffer the beginnings of civil war, Egypt also had its share of turmoil, this meant that the World Heritage Site of Petra was almost deserted. After spending a few days scouting the area I chose to photograph from a rocky ledge above the Treasury. I knew a guard would head up to the overlook every evening, so I made sure to hide myself amongst the rocks until dark. When it was safe I came out and set up my camera. Shortly later local bedouin started to light the 236 candles. When the last candle was lit they sat back for a break giving me barely a minute to shoot before tourists flocked into the area to listen to bedouin stories and music.

 


LA Gangland Granary

LA Gangland Granary

This ancient Puebloan ruin has no official name, but with its scrawled pictograph on the granary it’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed LA Gangland Granary. A few people are convinced the writing is graffiti and while it is very unusual I’m told it’s definitely original. The granary itself is perhaps not so photogenic, but there’s a certain thrill in finding these places. For a time I became obsessed with discovering and photographing anasazi ruins. Hiking in the southwest – particularly in remote areas – you get the feeling you could walk round any corner and suddenly discover something like this. For me that makes the southwest all the more appealing.

Here’s a few more:

 

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Poncho House

Poncho House

Poncho House

It was difficult to gain legal access to this ancient Puebloan ruin which is located in southern Utah.  Poncho House was discovered in 1875; abandoned like hundreds of other ruins in the area. It really is a fascinating place, despite being abandoned in the 12th century you can still find remarkable evidence of human occupation.