Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hoodoo country

It's been snowing since this afternoon, sparsely but steadily. "They" say we'll have maybe 8 inches by tomorrow; it's already 4 inches deep on the rim of my birdbath.

A good time to remember warmer days. Last summer, even.

Ever since I first drove through the Nicola Valley, I have used that highway on my way north or south; I have to see the hoodoos again. I've been in awe of them since the first glance. Laurie took photos a few years ago; I had a camera with me when I went to Bella Coola this summer. I took photos going and coming.

Unfortunately, almost none of the photos were satisfactory. With the smoke from the fires to the west billowing through the valley, greying the sky and masking the contours, and the monotony of the browns and brownish greens of the hills, everything turned out smoothed and softened. Whatever the camera said, that's not the way it is.

Especially not the hoodoos.

This last week, playing with Picnik, I found a way to show their grittiness and age, their hints (false though they may be) of the statuary of a disappeared civilization.

Unmodified photo; smoke, gentle curves, green hills. All wrong.

Crowd scene: robed Klansmen, maybe, just above the highway. The best of the  "realistic" photos.

The basics.

The hills here are sedimentary sandstone, forming distinct layers, clayey, sandy, gravelly, chipped rock. Wind and rain gnaw at the stone, wearing it down, sand-blasting it. The stone is soft, more so on some layers than on others, so the wind carves fantastic, impossible shapes into it. Ogres and kings, a company of court advisors in long robes, gods and devils and condemned prisoners; they're all there, far above our heads, going about their business with never a glance at the wheeled beetles below their platforms.

A baseball-sized chunk of white stone, fallen from the heights. Soft enough to be scratched by a fingernail.

High overhead, a monumental cone tombstone ...

with a watcher seated at the peak, looking across the mountains. What is he seeing?

A troll king's head at the massive gates to his domain.

A row of cardinals in chunky birettas.

Approaching the Nicola River and the crowd scene.

It's still snowing. 5 inches now. Tomorrow; juncos in the snow, I think.

1 comment:

  1. these are amazing, I've driven by them but my imagination is not as good as yours,now I'll look at them in a different light.


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