Ruth Sprain  

Canyon de Chelly Ruins by Ruth Sprain

November 2020 - Canyon de Chelly Ruins

November 2020 - Ruth Sprain


About the Image(s)

I took this photo in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona in 2019. This was one of the ruins that could be viewed from above on the canyon rim.

I used a Canon 7D at f-13, 1/90, and focal length. I don’t remember for sure, but I’m guessing that I used my 100-400 lens and a tripod because of the distance to the ruins.

In PhotoShop, I adjusted the shadows and highlights, added contrast, changed the image to black and white, dodged and burned to bring out the detail of the ruins, and sharpened. I found these ruins quite unusual to have part of the structure back in the alcove and part much further forward on the canyon face.

13 comments posted

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Hi Ruth. Nice to virtually meet you as well! What a interesting image! It is full of amazing detail and I found myself studying every inch of it. I kept going back and forth between the color and monochrome images, finding interest in both and I can honestly say I can't make up my mind which I like better.

I think I particularly like the strong horizontal lines created by the sediment layers of the canyon wall and the dark vertical striations call the eye down to the canyon floor and the ruins below.

At first glance I wondered if I was looking at a miniature diorama until I realized you were up on the canyon rim shooting down - this perspective creates added drama and perspective. Overall a very pleasing image.   Posted: 11/03/2020 19:09:51
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Thank you, Michael, for your comments. I too found the dark streaks in the rock to to create interesting leading lines. Canyon de Chelly is a fascinating place where one can "discover" numerous ruins hiding in the rocks of opposite canyon walls when you're up on the rim.   Posted: 11/08/2020 18:23:50

Lisa Cirincione   Lisa Cirincione
Great image Ruth. I like the Black and White conversion. It would be nice to have a person or animal to give the ruins some scale. Like Michael said, it looks like a diorama at first, Not sure if tourists are allowed to roam around in there.   Posted: 11/11/2020 14:03:33
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Lisa, visitors are only allowed to approach one ruins without a Navajo guide in Canyon de Chelly (White House Ruins, a 3 mile hike round trip from the canyon rim). This ruins area is not approachable at all, since it's part way up the canyon wall. The first building in the image appears to be in danger of breaking away and tumbling to the bottom of the canyon. A larger view of the canyon wall would make the ruins look tiny. That's why I focused in on the ruins.   Posted: 11/12/2020 10:24:51
Lisa Cirincione   Lisa Cirincione
It's a great image nonetheless... I was at a similar ruins in New Mexico, but we were allowed to climb a very very very tall ladder to get into them. Looking back, I can't believe I did it! So scary.   Posted: 11/12/2020 10:28:04
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
In Mesa Verde in southern Colorado, you can visit ruins such as Balcony House by long ladders. It's very exciting! Canyon de Chelly is different, since it's on Navajo land. We did hire a Navajo guide to visit the floor of the canyon. It's the only way to see some of the petroglyphs and views ruins along the River.   Posted: 11/12/2020 10:34:13

Kieu-Hanh Vu   Kieu-Hanh Vu
The conversion to B&W works well. The ruins at the low right corner give the viewers a sense of the scale of the canyon. I'd prefer to darken those ruins a bit more since they were overpowered by the dark streaks of the rock above them.   Posted: 11/11/2020 22:03:52
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Kieu-Hahn, thanks for your comment. I hadn't considered doing much adjustment to the ruins on the right. I did darken the shadows a bit. I mainly was concerned with the ruins on the left in the alcove.   Posted: 11/12/2020 10:28:46

Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
I like the conversion to black and white as it shows the lines and textures very nicely. The dark lines lead right into the ruins. It would be nice to have the scale but I understand from the responses above that is not possible. I appreciate the magnitude of the space and the ruins.   Posted: 11/12/2020 17:10:20

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Amazing scene, Ruth. At first glance it looks like a child's play area and the buildings were miniature. I do like the way you captured the house/fort in lower right side of frame. The darker lines in the rock above holds the eye lower in the frame. Very nicely done.

I tend to lean towards darker tones in my black and white images so here is a sample of what I came up with for an edit.

Hope you are doing well.

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 11/15/2020 15:08:34
Comment Image
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Hi LuAnn. Thanks for your version with a more dramatic look. It makes the front building stand out. I worked to make the alcove ruins visible, but I appreciate when the emphasis is on the lighter building too.   Posted: 11/20/2020 16:30:46

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
(Groups 83 & 87)
Hi Ruth! This is a very powerful image by the fact (in my opinion) adequate perspective reveals scale and thus I feel like I am going to drop over the edge....

I personally present almost all my work as BW (and in the past 3 years have gone back shooting 50 percent of my work on BW film) and your (Visualization) and rendering of Light, Shadow and Texture is a pleasing balance of grey-scale hues/tones. You have not over-processed this file and this is refreshing to see. Well done!   Posted: 11/18/2020 11:18:12
Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Lance, thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate your comment about feeling like you're going to drop off the edge. It felt a bit that way as I took the image.   Posted: 11/20/2020 16:23:36


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