Quinn River and the Sentinel

Slumbering Hills. My mild attempt to bring out the light of Maynard Dixon, Great Basin Desert, NV, USA

I have been camped for a little more than a week with an archaeological team in the Quinn River Valley of northern Nevada. Our work focuses on the vast, natural obsidian sources of the Double H and Montana Mountains that rise west of the valley’s broad sagebrush and agricultural land. I have been doing research on obsidian sources in this area of northern Nevada, off and on, for over twenty years, and I am still amazed by the complexity of these ancient volcanic rocks. Of course, I enjoy every opportunity to get into this part of the Nevada outback. While we document the obsidian and archaeological sites throughout the source areas, I get time in the early mornings and late evenings to practice and capture compositions around our project area.

Quinn River Collection

Sentinel morning. First light is always fun. Seems a little unbalanced due to the dark outcrop. This is an HDR merge of two images. 1/15 sec, f/22, ISO 100; Canon 5Div, 17-40mm (38mm).
Sentinel moonset. The wide angle almost loses the moon. 1/25 sec, f/14, ISO 100; Canon 5Div, 17-40mm (17mm).

Sentinel Rock is a prominent landmark on the western side of the Quinn River Valley. I am on the road early one morning—the morning with a few clouds—to hike the ridge to the volcanic plug. I circle the outcrop to capture the sunrise and the moonset. The images are nice, but I struggle with how to work with the dynamic range while expressing the feeling of early morning light.

The clouds built into isolated and short-lived afternoon thunderstorms, so I worked into the evening to watch the light play on the mountains. I undoubtedly spent too much time on the big views of the light, as I often do, and this results in a general lack of clear subject or foreground interest in many of the images from the Quinn River evenings. It is a basic limitation of moving between camp and the project area, or heading out quickly at the end of a field day; there is little time to get settled into a specific place and find a story or compose one or two thoughtful images that highlight the experience of this part of the Great Basin.

Orovada rocks. The rainbows have faded, but the post-storm show had one more curtain-call. 1/20 sec, f/14, ISO 100; Canon 5Div, 70-200mm (168mm).
Camp after rain. Our field camp in the Quinn River Valley. 0.4 sec, f/22, ISO 100; Canon 5Div, 24-70mm (55mm).

I like this challenge, but I remain on a slow learning curve. So, my shots remain disconnected snippets of my time along the Quinn River, and yet, there are a couple favorites here that will inhabit my portfolio collection for the near future.

Scratched. Rock lines in the talus of Crowley Creek, the view from the Sentinel. I’m always on the lookout for animal tracks, scaled or not. 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 400; Canon 80D, 70-200mm (168mm).
Red-winged sentinel. This noisy friend (Agelaius phoeniceus) followed me through the wetlands of Crowley Creek. 1/320 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200; Canon 80D, 70-200mm (168mm).
One. A lone sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii) in the sagebrush of Thacker Canyon. 1/1250 sec, f/5, ISO 200; Canon 80D, 24-70mm (53mm).
Camp host. A Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) at rest in the mid-day, but keeping close eye on me. 1/130 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400; Canon 80D, 70-200 mm (180mm).

Quinn River Collection

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