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Jun 232010

Old trucks and cabins at the Gold King Mine in Jerome, Arizona.

Yolanda invited her Pi Phi sorority sisters for an extended weekend reunion in Scottsdale. In other words, I got the boot. Great!! I rented a car and headed up to Sedona.

Such a dramatically beautiful and magical place, Sedona. I’ve been there many times and am fortunate to have met and become friends with local photographer, Larry Lindahl http://www.larrylindahl.com/1/home.html.

Larry and his lovely wife Wendy were going to the Gila Box, a canyon in eastern Arizona, for a rafting trip and offered their house with awesome views of Thunder Mountain. All I had to do was water the garden. Fantastic, I was set.

After spending a good part of Thursday playing taxi, picking up Yolanda’s friends from the airport, I beat feet north to Beaver Creek, nope, not our beloved The Beav in Colorado but a little national forest campground close to Sedona.

Before sunrise at the pool behind the campground along Beaver Creek.

Our handyman, Larry Jacobson, always has good suggestions and on this one, he was right on. Beaver Creek Campground is situated along a beautiful stretch of creek two miles east of the Sedona turnoff from I-17. Fortunately, it’s not a big campground and there is little traffic along the road, just a few wandering cows to avoid.

Grass, cottonwoods and sycamores along Beaver Creek.

I got there just before dark and “set up” the amazing, Quickdraw self-erecting tent Larry lent me. All I did was take the tent out of the bag and throw it. It popped into shape and set itself up! All in about five seconds. Not surprisingly, you attract quite a bit of attention when you do this.

The evening was mild and after dark I explored along the creek and up the road a bit. In the distance I heard a chorus of frogs. Scrambling over the rocks by the creek in the dark, I was met by a full on chorus of singing frogs. I don’t use the term chorus lightly. I’ve never before heard such a true chorus of frogs.

The singing rose and fell in a melodious song produced by dozens of frogs, each singing, or trilling on their own pitch, creating a wall of pulsating sound that wandered slowly in the dark across my field of hearing. It was mesmerizing.

The next morning I got up before sunrise to find some photographs. The stretch of creek behind my campsite was lovely, with red rocks, trees, bushes and a large pool. Thar be photos.

Afterward, I took off to meet Larry and Wendy to take possession of their home before they left. It was a lovely, blue-sky day with big puffy clouds, so typical of Sedona. One of my goals was to re-do a photograph I had done several years before of Devil’s Bridge. This time though, using a new technique called HDR or High Dynamic Range photography. I’ve been writing a couple of articles about this style of photography and thought that it would be useful for this subject.

Sunrise on Thunder Mountain in Sedona.

Sunset that evening wasn’t terribly productive but I got up before dawn the next morning and got a few decent images around Thunder Mountain. Later that morning I headed out to Devil’s Bridge, taking the last mile of so of dirt road very slowly. It’s a pretty rocky, rutted road and I had no desire to damage the rental car.

Parking and then hiking along the road, I followed a set of quite fresh, mountain lion tracks, possibly from the night before. The trail to the formation is about a mile, an easy mile, after which I climbed up beneath the arch and set up, waiting for the still moments between breezes to make the exposures.

HDR involves making a series of usually around five exposure brackets; two over-exposed, a normal exposure, and two under-exposed. Combining them in a program called Photomatix allows you to smooth out the highlights and shadows in high contrast subjects like the bridge, half of which is in shadow.

Upon processing the images later that day, I found that I gained nothing with the new technique, but I did get a pretty decent shot of the bridge from the unusual angle below the arch.

Devil’s Bridge looking toward Boynton Canyon.

Another goal was to make a visit to the Gold King Mine, www.goldkingmineghosttown.com,  in the charming, old, mining town of Jerome. I’ve been to Jerome several times over the years. It’s perched high up a mountain south of Cottonwood, with spectacular views north to Sedona. On my previous visit a couple of years ago, I discovered the Gold King Mine and ghost town.

Abstract #2-Gold King Mine Jerome, Arizona

This is another of those amazing folk art creations, just like Rattlesnake Crafts I wrote about before, only this time it’s mainly old trucks, mining implements and the ghost town. There are dozens upon dozens of old vehicles parked in rows all over the property. Among them are scattered all sorts of stuff: heaps of old tools, tire rims, junk of every description, and also the town’s shacks, (there was a sort of town there). There’s a dentist’s office, an assay office, the auto parts supply, an old cabin and other buildings filled with chickens and other animals, live chickens that is, of many remarkable breeds.

Big Bertha

They also have an old, steam saw mill that constantly “chucks” away as it releases pent up steam. You can even pay ten bucks to hear them fire up Big Bertha, an enormous, old power generator, to hear it thunder.

There are a number of beautifully, restored, classic cars around the property. It is a photographer’s dream. I’d love to lead a photography seminar here. Everything is in a state of slow decay and there is so much unusual and interesting subject matter laying around rusting away. Should you ever go to Jerome, Arizona, the Gold King Mine is well worth your five dollars.

Abstract #1-Gold King Mine Jerome, Arizona

Copyright 2010 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging