Monday, June 9, 2008

Scott’s Bluff

An Odd Shot
That Turned Out
Almost Perfect

First the Technical Stuff
Nikon D200, f/16, 1/1000 sec, 56mm focal length, ISO 640

It was mid-morning with some residual moisture in the air from an early morning fog. This photo (jpeg) does not do justice to the beauty of this quiet morning on the Plains. There was a high thin cloud layer making the lighting very diffuse. This only seem to enhance the soft palette of colors. I can still hear the birds in the cedars, grasses, and scrub. I can still smell the dry parched grasses touched by the hint of moisture. If you love history, can you still hear the creak and groan of the wagon trains? Do you think the Bluffs miss the company of the settlers at night as they made their campfires, cooked their meals, and reminisced about the adventures of the day? If you have never been to this part of the US, drop everything and go now.

A Hint to Make Your Nature Photography More Enjoyable….
Try to remember what it smelled like and what you could hear.
Update: Also, was the sweat dripping from your nose, and how did you feel.
Make notes if necessary to accompany a potential great photograph.

The Amazing Part
The only Post Processing done was to adjust the Levels. For those that don’t use Photoshop, this is a very minor adjustment to set the white point in the photo to white (in this case the small white chalk deposits in the cliffs), being careful not to lose detail in the lightest areas. Then set the black point to black (in this case the darkest shadows under the Cedars). The net result of this is to increase the range of shades of gray or in this case colors to a broader spectrum that the eye would expect to see. This may not be visible on a monitor, but is really important when printed to a good calibrated Printer. No other adjustments were made. Amazing. Sometimes the Camera just gets it right.

Saddle Rock
Scott’s Bluff National Monument

(Click on the photo for a full view)

Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska includes an important 19th century landmark on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. The National Monument contains multiple bluffs (steep hills) located on the south side of the North Platte River, but it is named after one prominent bluff called Scotts Bluff which rises over 830 feet (330 m) above the plains at its highest point. The monument is composed of five rock formations named Crown Rock, Dome Rock, Eagle Rock, Saddle Rock, and Sentinel Rock.

Scotts Bluff County and the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, were named after the landmark.

The collection of bluffs was first charted by non-native people in 1812 by the Astorian Expedition of fur traders traveling along the river. The expedition party noted the bluffs as the first large rock formations along the river where the Great Plains started giving way to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Their findings were not widely communicated, however, because of the War of 1812. In 1823 the route to the Rocky Mountains was rediscovered, and the bluffs became a regular landmark for fur traders in the region. The most prominent bluff was named after a fur trader named Hiram Scott who died near the bluff in 1828.

Fur traders, missionaries, and military expeditions began regular trips past Scotts Bluff during the 1830s. Beginning in 1841, multitudes of settlers passed by Scotts Bluff on their way west on the Emigrant Trail to Oregon, and later California and Utah. Wagon trains used the bluff as a major landmark for navigation. The trail itself passed through Mitchell Pass, a gap in the bluffs flanked by two large cliffs. Although the route through Mitchell Pass was tortuous and hazardous, many emigrants preferred this route to following the North Platte river bottom on the north side of the bluff. Passage through Mitchell Pass became a significant milestone for many wagon trains on their way westward. In one of its first engineering deployments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a smoother road through Mitchell Pass in the early 1850s. Use of the Emigrant Trail tapered off in 1869 when the trail was made obsolete by the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

The town of Gering, Nebraska, was founded near the base of the bluff in 1887, and the city of Scottsbluff was founded across the North Platte River from the bluff in 1900. Separated only by the river, the two cities have since grown together and now form the 8th-largest urban area in Nebraska.

I hope you have enjoyed this odd shot of a moment in history.
Leave a comment if you enjoyed it (and why), or if you have been there.

These odd posts all started over at Katney's.

Troy and Martha,
in Nebraska


me ann my camera said...

I enjoyed very much. I don't know this region at all though, and being Canadian I am more familiar with our western landscapes of prairies and mountains. But mention of the early settlers and their problems encountered meshes memories together of history studied, novels read and movies seen. I also love the art work of Frederic Remington and Charles Russel. I just like the atmosphere it all seems to evoke.

I have made a couple of road trips across the northern part of the States following highway #2 from Michigan, into Wisconsin, North Dakota and Montana and I loved it, especially the rolling hills of Dakota and Montana; but that is the extent of my American West travelling adventures. Your pictures are lovely to view and your text draws me into the scenes you present.

imac said...

Not only is this a great shot, but a history lesson also tips, what a fantastic post.
many thanks from a Nikon D50 user.

Thanks for your kind comments, stay tune - there's more to come.

Anonymous said...

A geological oddity. Stunning.

John said...

Great shot and a very nice history.
Well done post.

the teach said...

Troy and Martha, a perfect photo! I have Adobe Photo Shop can I set the white point and black point? Thanks for the history too! :D

The Texican said...

You have larned me sumthin' new today. I just knew the town name, Scott's Bluff, I had never heard the history, nor had I ever seen the bluffs. Thanks.

JC said...

Fantastic shot and post! I enjoyed it very much... the area has a wonderful history, as most of the midwest has. You've nearly captured being there... well done!

I say nearly only because it's very hard to get everything in a photo :-)

B. Roan said...

Not only informative, but a fantastic shot.

Sharon said...

I enjoyed it a lot!I love visiting places and learning the history of the area!

The weird little coffee shop is on the loop in Tyler. i can't remember its name, though.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Very nice... a good lesson well taken.
Mountain Retreat

Island Rambles Blog said...

I hope you are feeling better and I see you have done a wonderful post today...I love any photo shop or camera advice...I never knew about setting the white and black points but it does make sense...I love all your photos...and I learn so much here as you always have put in a lot of history or a good travel story is kind of you to share all this as it takes time to prepare, I really appreciate the effort you put into this blog. The pure joy of travel comes through it all.

Shellmo said...

I love the history that accompanies your photos!

Gypsy at heart said...

What a wonderful trip you had!

Gattina said...

Very interesting ! I first thought it was a castle ! Nature does make strange shapes !

Paulie said...

Definitely unique! Beautiful shot!

Scotty Graham said...

Nice post today, Troy...

Hey, saw your name (and blog) on the P&P blogroll...seems we run in similar circles, heh?

Always a pleasure to drop by your blog....


Dragonstar said...

I've always loved pictures of these incredible features. Beautiful shot.

Dewdrop said...

Great history lesson. I enjoyed it. I was in northern Nebraska last year. It was mostly flat with some hills. This actually reminds me of the badlands that I saw while in SD. They were pretty incredible... and there was a tornado over them, while I was up there, but we missed the doggone tornado. Grr...

Marvin said...

I have never been to that part of the U. S. and would love to drop everything and go, but.......

Superb photo!

Tammy said...

I love your photos. The shot of Scotts Bluff caught my attention as my husband grew up in Torrington, Wyoming which isn't far from there and he speaks of the Bluff often. We live in Texas now, but I now he longs for Wyoming's wide open spaces.

indicaspecies said...

Informative and interesting post. I like the photograph more for what you have included in the foreground.