Petrified Forest or Bust

11 July 2015 – On the road

I’ve been preparing for my artist residency at the Petrified Forest National Park for months. I applied for the Artist in Residence program in early January and received notification in early February that I’d been accepted, and I start tomorrow! I’ve poured over maps and Google Earth and found a few books on the history of the park, the cultures that lived there and how the landscape was formed. The archeologist’s reports have piqued my curiosity! There are places I want to see, things I want to know.

I’ve gone through all my photo gear to figure out what I’ll need and got everything packed. My hubby is going with me, and I requested permission to bring Sandy – our sweet little handicapped Corgi. I’m allowed to have her in the cabin with us, so we’re all packed in the Jeep and drove to Albuquerque, about ¾ of the way today. Tomorrow will be a short 3-hour drive.

For months, I’ve been formulating idea for my two required presentations. I knew the park closes at sunset, so I wasn’t sure night sky program would be an option for me, so I was thinking about a sunset photo hike, maybe talking about composition or recreating one of the amazing shots on a post card from the gift shop. Soon, I learned that the park would like to be designated at a dark sky park, and a night sky program fits perfectly with their plans! I started working on images, making prints and mounting them. Now I have 20-something prints ready to show. I have a night sky program planned inside the park and also a show at a hotel in Winslow, so I can show my prints and discuss how to find the constellations, how to use the moonlight, processes we use in night photography, etc. In no way do I consider myself a night sky photography expert.   I’m sure someone will be there that knows more than me, but I’ll be happy to share what I do know. I remember how frustrating it was trying to shoot the Milky Way, and it was so nice when I finally found someone to show me what I needed to do. That’s what I hope to accomplish. I enjoy being out under the stars, and it’s a lot more fun when I’m not there alone.

I’m excited to get there and start exploring! It’s the monsoon season there now, so I’m sure I’ll get some great weather pics. I bought a recorder so I can record the sounds of nature and hopefully use the recordings in time-lapse videos. I also brought my Gigapan, so I can get a HUGE panorama photograph made from hundreds of images. The only limitation I have is the power of my computer to process them. Of course, I’ve got wide angle and zoom lenses as well as a macro.

I love geology and history, and I’ve been reading books on the park, it’s geology and the prehistoric sites they’ve found there. Over 600 Pueblo sites within the park, dinosaur bones, clams (in the desert?!) and of course lots of petrified wood. And then there’s the Painted Desert and those amazing colors. I hope two weeks is enough time!

I’ll do my best to make time for a blog each day. Maybe I can even include pictures! It’s hard to believe that the adventure starts tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to “living” in a National Park for two weeks with the “job” of taking pictures. J

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