Familiar Shapes in Rocks
Rock formations and clouds share a common bond because interesting shapes and images are often found in them.
Perceiving images in objects like rocks and clouds is a psychological phenomenon termed Pareidolia. Many of the master artists including Leonardo da Vinci were aware of pareidolia and used the imagery for artistic expression.
One thing we do have plenty of in the Southwestern Desert is rocks, which most of the time are more numerous than clouds.
Some of my favorite rocks that are great examples pareidolia are as follows:
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah stands out against the snow and the Ponderosa forest and is actually an 85 foot (25.908 m) arch. The rusty-orange flying buttresses of Natural Bridge were formed over millions of years by wind, water, and chemical erosion.
Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona has a distinctive shape and is one of the favorite tourist attractions. Standing at 4,919 feet (1499 m), Bell Rock is actually a butte, composed of horizontally bedded sedimentary rock.
The red and white sandstone of Calico Hills accents the desert landscape in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA) with peaks that extend up 4870 feet (1484 m). Towering in the distance behind Calico Hills at 6324 feet (1928 m) is the famous Turtlehead Peak which is the only limestone formation in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The Chief, wearing a full headdress watches out from a volcanic cliff at the entrance to Wilson Canyon, Nevada. The two mile long (3.2 km) Wilson Canyon gorge was cut by the Walker River many years ago.
An elephant rock sits atop what was once the lakebed of Walker Lake. During the last Ice Age, the prehistoric Lake Lahontan covered much of northwestern Nevada, as the climate dried, the lake receded, leaving behind unusual tufa based outcroppings.
A colorful outcropping of sandstone resembles an eagle at Buffington Pockets which is an area of unusual rock formations and canyons near the Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.
In most of the areas where these unique rock formations are located, traces of early humans can be found who left their stories carved in the desert varnish on the faces of these ancient boulders. Over the millennia, many different cultures have lived and hunted through these canyons and along the streams.
Today as I walk on the trails, I feel these ancient spirits that still dwell within the rocks. As I look closely I catch a glimpse of the former inhabitants through the pareidolia that stand out in the rocks. Maybe that is why I feel so drawn to spend countless hours just gazing at rocks. And when the gentle breeze touches my face at dusk, I know that they are there watching over their sacred home.
With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.
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