Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

“Orange is the new Black”

Reflected light in slot canyon, Zion NP

Reflected light in slot canyon, Zion NP

For anyone who might be wondering about the title of this post, I can only say that I have no clue as to “why” I chose it.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Heck, I’ve never even seen the TV show it references (love the title but have no interest in the show itself).  The only connection, of course, is the color in this image.  If you’re lucky, this is a color you sometimes see while walking through a narrow canyon (or wash) if the sun is shining on the opposite wall.  The sunlight will bounce of that wall and the reflected light will turn the other wall varying shades of orange and yellow.  The actual sandstone itself isn’t quite this color.  Without the reflected sunlight the wall would still be orange-ish, but not this orange.

While the light is nice, what’s more interesting to me is the lines and textures found in formations like this.  Sandstone, of course, is nothing more than fossilized sand.  This sandstone (well, sand) used to be on the bottom of a large, shallow sea about 200 million years ago.  At that time, the Colorado Plateau – or what became the Colorado Plateau – was much closer to the equator than it is now.  (See?  Nothing stays the same forever.)  The continents shifted, the seas eventually dried up, and the sand was blown into dunes.  Dunes that were eventually covered and compressed by heavier rock.

All that was needed then was about 100 million years of erosion, mostly by wind and water.  Erosion that formed these incredible shapes and lines.  And is still doing so today.

Which makes me wonder: Will I look this good 100 million years from now?   

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6 Responses to ““Orange is the new Black””

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks Kathryn. I really appreciate that. I just wish there was a way to express visually how these formations feel to the touch. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it here in the northeast.

      Reply
  1. E. Brooks

    Beautiful photo, Paul, and I’m already starting to see many of those lines in myself. I don’t think I’ll have to wait 100 million years to look like this…maybe only 10-20 more and I’ll be pretty close. 🙂

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, EB. I think I’m a few years ahead of you. I guess sandstone “weathers” the passage of time far better than we do………

      Reply
  2. Cedric Canard

    The passage of time when considered on these scales is mind boggling. Your photo on the other hand is something I can wrap my head around. Gorgeously vibrant orange.

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks Cedric. This is one of those images that you look at later and realize that it’s a poor substitute for the actual experience. The color’s close, but not exactly right. You can see the texture, but you can’t feel it. And most of all, you can’t see the rest of what was there. Some (or most) of the context is lost. Still, it helps me to remember.

      Reply

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