Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kinishba Ruins

Located about 2-miles north of AZ State Route 73 outside the community of Canyon Day on the White Mountain Apache Reservation is where you'll find this very unique National Historic Landmark.  The dirt road off Route 73 is about 2-miles and leads to a very small parking area.  Once you walk through the gate and follow the trail to the ruins you'll be on a 1/3 mile pedestrian loop trail which is very easy to follow.

Kinishba is a large pueblo ruin containing nine masonry buildings constructed between 1250 and 1350 A.D. by the pre-Columbian Mogollon culture.  It is thought to originally have 400-500 ground floor rooms standing two or three stories high and may have housed as many as 1000 people.  The pueblo was vacated in the late 14th to early 15th centuries for as yet unknown reasons.

We've learned Kinishba is also called "Kin Dalhbaa" (Brown House) by the Apache, "Mäi'povi" (Place of Snakeweed) by the Hopi and "Hesho da so sona" (Brown House of Ancestors) by the Zuni.

We've written about exploring cliff dwellings in the past and as soon as we found there were ruins in the same area near Fort Apache we had to see if we could go there.  Kinishba was a surprise and treat for us as it has turned out to be the easiest early American ruin we have had the honor of visiting.  The 2-mile dirt road was easy to navigate and once we got to the small parking area the rest was even easier.  You can see the ruins from the parking area and the path around the ruin was level and easy as well. 

There's several ruins in the immediate area with the primary being the Main Plaza, then just north is the excavated ruins and further north is what's left of the museum and caretakers quarters which include a small guesthouse and carport.  There is evidence of past efforts to rebuild and preserve the pueblo however it appears that the effort has largely been abandoned.  Walking through the remains of the caretakers quarters we saw evidence of a fire which may account for the overall degrading of the area. 

We strongly recommend visiting the ruins if you find yourself in the area visiting Fort Apache. One can't help but feel a thrill walking along the plaza looking into the rooms on either side feeling the presence of those who once called this home.

The images here were all captured either by Sandy using here Canon 1DsIII and 24-70mm lens or Don using his Leica M9 and a combination of either a 24mm or 50mm lens.  The processing was all performed using CS5 and Nik software (Viveza 2, Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro.

We thank the people of White Mountain Apache Reservation for allowing us to visit and share this area.

Thank you for visiting and allowing us to share and remember, your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.

Sandy & Don

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fort Apache Arizona

Commanding Officer's quarters as seen across the parade field.  

On May 16, 1870 construction began on what was called Camp Ord.  Within the following year troops moved from Camp Goodwin into the site and renamed it Camp Mogollon, then Camp Thomas, and finally, Camp Apache.  The post was designated Fort Apache in 1879.  The Army stayed at Fort Apache for 43 years until it was abandoned in 1922.  In 1923 the site became the home of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Theodore Roosevelt Indian Boarding School.  The school was originally intended for Navajo children however by the 1930s the majority of the school were Apache.  Today the school serves as a middle school under administration the Tribal Council school board.  A great place to visit for further information is located here.

Fort Apache is located 1/2 mile east of Arizona Highway 73, and 5 miles south of Whiteriver, Arizona.  Fort Apache is a Historic Park owned and managed by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. 

We've passed signs for Fort Apache every time we drive north to Show Low and every time I'd say to Sandy that I wanted to go there "someday".  Of course I was thinking of the place I had seen in the movie as a kid not thinking the movie and the actual fort would be different.  I've remembered Fort Apache as the 1948 John Ford film starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda.  While I haven't seen the movie in many years the reality of the film to the actual location and history has turned out to be different. 

We finally took the drive last week to visit Fort Apache and I'm glad we did.  While little is left of the actual fort there are still buildings that have stood for over 120 years.  The added benefit was that in visiting Fort Apache we found the Kinishba Ruins which we'll share later on.

Camera gear used for this outing was left simple; Sandy had her Canon 1DsIII and 24-70 mm lens while I had my Leica M9 and took turns using a Summicron 50mm and Elmarit 24mm. I decided to process the images to better suit the environment and used a combination of C1 Pro, CS5 and Nik software.

Sandy and I wish to thank the White Mountain Apaches for sharing their history with us and being patient in answering our questions during our brief visit.   

There's more to come...

Sandy & Don

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shooting Slot Canyons with a Medium Format Tech Camera

Schneider 35mm f/5.6 1.0 ISO 50

I had a conversation with a friend of mine regarding what I wrote about the dangers of being in a slot canyon and felt I should add something.  Being in a slot canyon is dangerous if you come unprepared.  Much like people who every year attempt to hike Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon wearing flip-flops or high heels, or carry little to no water or any combination; and yes I seen it and not only at the Grand Canyon.  We go out with more water than we think we need just in case; just in case we spend more time than we originally thought but also to give people water we don't need.  It's called being prepared for your environment.  You can be in an area that's totally dry - hadn't seen a drop of rain for weeks or months and think you're safe entering a slot canyon.  And for the most part you are.  Except you also need to check the weather not only in your immediate area but outside it as well.  One of the biggest dangers in a slot canyon is flash floods that are created miles away from where you are.  We've seen big railroad ties wedged into cracks high above our heads (in some cases 20 feet higher).  The message I want to get across is that while a slot canyon can be an extremely dangerous place to be you can mitigate that danger with common sense.  It'd be a real shame to miss the beauty of a slot canyon; so if you're in the area of one you should try to see it - just be careful.

Another warning.  It'll be very dusty in a slot canyon.  Remember you'll be anywhere from 10 to 100 feet below ground and while you might not feel the wind blowing, it could be on the surface.  That wind will blow sand into the slot canyon where you're standing and get into places you don't want it to be.  You can take precautions; however this is the nature of the beast so expect to emerge dusty, sandy and dirty.  But it'll be worth it!

Schneider 35mm f/8  1.0 ISO 50

This edition centers around using a tech camera (in this case a Cambo WRS1000) and digital medium format back (Phase One 60megapixel P65+) and a wide-angle 35mm Schneider lens with a centerfilter attached.  

Schneider 35mm  f/8 1/4 ISO 100

I normally use a heavy tripod whenever I use the Cambo however I knew on this trip I'd have to go for a lightweight smaller one.  My main heavy-duty tripod is a Gitzo GT5540LS with a Arca Swiss Cube attached.  This tripod extends to eye-level which considering I'm 6-9 is rather tall.  The trade-off is the weight and the foot print of the legs when fully extended.  The lighter tripod is also a Gitzo, an older GT2540 with a Really Right Stuff BH40 ballhead attached.  The main trade off is the height and light weight.  I just bend over for the height and hook my backpack to it to better secure the weight.  I found the BH40 to be a good compromise as  I can mount either the M9 or Cambo on it.

Schneider 35mm f/8 1/4 ISO 100

Here's a little more information on the rest of the equipment I used not only in Page but while I was hiking in Bluff. While Phase One sent a great bag a couple weeks ago and I did use it in the Ohh Ahh Point hike I decided to use my Click Elite bag for this trip mainly because I can carry a 3 liter (100 oz) water bladder. The bag not only carried my main water supply it also carried my tech camera with lens, shutter cables, extra batteries, snacks, gloves, GPS (Garmin), Sat Phone (Iridium), monocular (Vortex 10x36), Leica Disto D5 laser meter, small tools and a change of socks. Yeah I believe in being prepared.

Schneider 35mm f/8 1/4 ISO 100

I found using the Cambo much easier here than the M9 since with the M9 I'd have to use the rangefinder to find a focal point. Using the Leica D5 I'd set the tripod up then laser the distance from the lens and set the focus to the measurement. I found this turned out to be much faster after I got the hang of it. I attempted a couple of shots where I wanted to test focus stacking and have provided 2-samples here. I tried to shoot as low an ISO as possible and ended up not going over 100 for the majority of the shots. The images were shot from 1.4 second to 1 full second which I believe turned out well. The samples were all originally opened in Capture One before processed in CS5 and Nik Viveza 2.

2-image focal stack Schneider 35mm f/5.6 1.0 ISO 50
2-image focal stack Schneider 35mm f/5.6 1.0 ISO 50

Based on my 2-day shooting experiences using both the Leica M9 and Cambo I prefer the Cambo even though I ended up carrying extra weight. The only caveat is that I'd need to be in a slot canyon with way less traffic otherwise the Leica M9 wins out.

I hope to hike Buckskin Gulch soon and have every intention of using my tech camera.

Looking into an furnace
Schneider 35mm f/8 1/4 ISO 100
Once again I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share the experiences of photographing the southwest. Please remember your comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome.