Clouds to think by

Clouds to think by

We had clouds on the bookends of the day today.  Clouds to the east at first light, but they dissipated as the day grew toward late morning.  All through early afternoon, it was sunny with scattered clouds.  But as the evening drew nigh, the cloud layer grew thicker.  I had planned to go over to the Yellow Mounds area for the evening, so I stuck to that plan even with the thick, almost flat cloud layer.  With overcast clouds, rich colors can often come out better than under sunlight.  The blue of glaciers really pops in overcast light.  Flowers are at their best in overcast light. 

This benefit of overcast sky is because the softness of light is a product of the size of the relative light area and its distance to the subject.  The sun, as huge as it is in comparison to the Earth, is relatively small in the sky as a light source when it is clear and sunny.  In contrast, a flat overcast sky produces a rather huge light source – across the entire sky.  Now, for distance.  The sun is considerably farther away than the sky.  Studio portrait photographers use umbrellas or softboxes to increase the surface area of the light, and will often move those softboxes close to the subject.  The larger the surface and closer to the subject, the softer the light. 

So, with that in mind, I thought I would try to capture rich colors.  The yellows and magentas at the Yellow Mounds area.  The fresh new leaves and buds on trees in the park.  Of course, I pulled out and took a few pictures when I found a group of pronghorn close to the road.

But I also took the cloudy evening to think back on the month I have spent here.  I thought of all the places I have explored and captured, and yet also found myself longing for those shots I did not capture.  I thought about how small I thought the Badlands were.  In Alaska, you get a skewed sense of size.  When you look at Alaska parks on a map and compare them to Lower 48 parks, well, there is no comparison.  Alaska has the two largest national parks, the two largest national forests, and the largest state park in the U.S.  But after spending a month here, I came to realilze how large the Badlands really is.  There is still  so much to explore, and I will have to come back again to explore those places that eluded me this time.  Of course, it will be nice to revisit some familiar places, too, as a single location can look vastly different through the seasons, the light, and the weather. 

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