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08.15.2011

Ryuichi Oshimoto

Title Photo: At the Petrified Forest National Park, located on the northeastern region of Arizona, fossilized trees can be seen.
Many of the petrified wood are Araucarioxylon Arizonicum species and it was unbelievably solid to the touch.

Camera: SD1 Lens: APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX DG HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed:1/500 sec, Aperture: f9.0, Focal length: 150mm

Approaching Grand Canyon National Park I pass through Flagstaff, a gateway-like city to the park, and head east on Interstate Freeway 40 for 85 miles. I exit the freeway at Holbrook. A town along Route 66, I get a glimpse into the era when the town was thriving with many gift shops and an endearing figure of a large dinosaur pulled my eye. Following the sign reading “Petrified Forest National Park,” I headed southeast on State Road 180. Strong gusts of wind blew through this field with a few trees and my eyes narrowed by the strong rays of light piercing through my sunglasses. Driving on this field for a while, the road leading to the national park splits and the SR 180 stretches north and the corner has a large gift shop. In front of the store, there were petrified woods as souvenirs lined up.

Unexpectedly, even though this place wasn’t an amusement park, there were large dinosaur figures at a corner of an unadorned street. Forgetting about the fatigue from the long drive, the scene was photographed with the compact digital camera from inside my car window.

Camera: DP2sExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm

The land without any shade from the strong sunlight, tumbleweeds get tangled in the wired fence. Lowering the saturation, an arid land was emphasized.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/800 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 28mm

I saw some more dinosaurs by the corner of a gift shop by the road connecting to the national park entrance.
The tarnished and damaged dinosaurs and the strong sunlight on the field were taken simultaneously.

Camera: DP2sExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm

There is an entryway on the north and south side of Petrified Forest National Park and I arrived at the southern entrance. As I greeted the park ranger with, “It’s very windy today,” she replied, “This is normal.” The tanned ranger with a bright smile informed me that we are prohibited from taking rocks out of the park. Around the end of the 19th century, an increasing number of people took the petrified wood and therefore a significant amount of the fossils disappeared. The area became a national historic site in 1906, then a national park in 1966 and although the law forbids the removal of rocks out of the park, the fossils vanish every year. When I arrive at the Rainbow Forest Museum, I first decided to watch a short film about the topography of the area. Afterward, I walked on Giant Logs Trail, a short trail behind the museum. An average elevation of 5400 ft, the climate in the park drastically changes throughout the seasons. The summers are brutal and there are frequent severe thunderstorms from July to September. During the winter, snow falls. On this day in mid-May, the climate was not hot or cold and besides the strong wind, it was the perfect climate.

On Giant Logs Trail, one can see up close some of the most colorful petrified trees in the park.
The short trail behind the visitor center was very accessible, so many people were utilizing it.

Camera: DP2sExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm

The paint like effect of the petrified wood is about hefty 168 lbs per cube foot. The macro lens captured its heavy existence faithfully.

Camera: SD1 Lens: MACRO 70mm F2.8 EX DGExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 70mm

Starting from near the visitor center, I walk on both Long Logs Trail and Agate House Trail at the same time. At this time, I was the only one walking on the densest area of petrified wood. Wind blew through the vast land with 360? of nothing obstructing it. I tied my hat tighter than usual, my shoes firmly stepping the ground and the strong sun creating my silhouette, emphasized my existence.

Imagining the prehistoric times, the super wide-angle zoom lens captured the scene entirely.
Lowering the saturation significantly, the fossilized trees and parched land under the strong sun was emphasized.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 11mm

Two million years ago during the Triassic era, trees were carried over to this land by a river. Because of volcano eruptions, forests were annihilated and the trees were buried under volcanic ash mixed with soil which eventually turned to fossil. I walk over to Agate House, made out of the petrified woods. The houses, built by the Pueblo Indians during the 1050’s to the 1300’s, were restored beautifully. Imagining the lives of the Pueblo Indians when they resided on this land, I pressed the shutter and I felt like I could hear voices from inside the Agate House.


Beyond the trail stretching out on the vast land, I see the fossilized house ahead. Focusing on the fossilized tree in the foreground, the Agate House was included in the far background to illustrate the Agate house Trail.

Camera: DP1xExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100,White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec,Aperture: f6.3, Focal length: 16.6mm

In 1934, after an archaeological excavation, the Agate house was restored.
The scattered fossils, Agate House, the blue sky and the overall atmosphere were photographed.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/640 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 14mm

Standing next to the house, I focused at one point and envisioning the lives of the Pueblo Indians, I photographed the scene. The high quality digital camera captured the petrified wood brilliantly.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec, Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 20mm

Petrified wood was found at a parched creek at the starting point of the looped trail.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 18mm

After walking on the trail, I headed north in the park to Blue Mesa, located in the middle of the park. A thin stratum of blue Bentonite clay radiates in the afternoon sun. As I take in the view, I visualize the earth before humans existed or stepping onto a different planet. Just as the temperature dropped, the sun quickly set and I left the park from the northern side.

The sun casts a light on the petrified wood scattered across the mesa.
The strong winds sway my body, but I held the camera firmly to photograph the scene.

Camera: SD1 Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed:1/500 sec, Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 128mm

Could this earth’s surface be untouched? The large aperture standard zoom lens sharply captured earth’s history at a close distance.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM,Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance:daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm


The Desert Paintbrush growing on the cliff edge absorbs the afternoon sun.
The small digital camera captured the end of the day.

Camera: DP2sExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec, Aperture: f5.6, Focal length:24.2mm

The next morning, I woke up before 6:30am and opened the curtain to be greeted by the morning light striking into the window. Petrified Forest National Park opens up at 7am and until the gates open, no one can enter the park. After taking a leisurely breakfast, I entered the park after 7am. On this morning, the first place I stopped by the Route 66 monument instead of fossilized wood. Also known as the Mother Road, it played a significant role in revealing the presence of the petrified wood.


Route 66 once ran through this land. Petrified Forest National Park is the only national park that includes a segment of Route 66. Changing to monochrome, it seems to revive the time when many people traveled west.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight,Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec, Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 50mm

Driving across Interstate Freeway 40, an alternative to Route 66, I drove over the Santa Fe railroad tracks and enter a green field. There were also trees growing with brown water flowing in the river and there was indication of the dwellings of Pueblo Indians by the river. During the summer drought, there was little rain, so they relocated by the river and the corn, beans and pumpkin crops were moved near the river.

Around 1300 AD, there were about 200 Pueblo Indians lived at Puerco Pueblo. There were about 100 to 120 rooms with no doors or windows and the ladder was used to enter and exit the outer walls. Reducing the X3 Fill Light, the background was softened to highlight the quiet presence of the dwelling.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 50mm

I saw a river near the large dwelling.
It has been a while since seeing water on the dry land. The muddy water is brown colored, but under the strong sunlight, it looked like an oasis.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm

After seeing the water and greenery, I headed south toward Blue Mesa Trail, the place I saw on the previous day.
The sedimentary layer seen on the gray mountain slopes of Blue Mesa, appear as though they were spray painted on. There were a number of petrified woods scattered among the valley surrounded by the slopes.

From the starting point of the Blue Mesa Trail, I look across the northern direction of the park.
Using the large aperture lens, the vast landscape and the rain and wind weathered sandstone was captured.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 85mm

At this time of day, the color seemed more purple than blue.
The ultra-high quality digital camera sharply captured the mysterious landscape.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 8mm

On this day, the clouds began to appear before noontime. The busily moving clouds controlled the sunlight to create dramatic lighting. Areas where clouds blocked the sunlight were completely dark like night. The areas in directly sunlight were intensely bright.

The sunlight dramatically lights up the Tepees, a series of mountains shaped like tents.
Dropping the saturation, the world of light and shadow was emphasized.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 30mm

The clear sky was soon covered by clouds and with the wind blowing suddenly, the temperature dropped immediately as well. As I gaze over the northern area of Petrified Forest National Park, the landscape showed many colorful expressions by the varying weather conditions.

The Painted Desert located on the northern region of the park, literally looked like a painted desert.
The high quality digital camera faithfully captured the painted desert that nature created.

Camera: SD1 Lens: 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSMExposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 30mm

Following the suspicious cloud movement, I drove further north.

All SD1 photographs have been photographed with a SD1 Beta version. Also all artwork on this page was processed from RAW data (X3F) with Sigma PhotoPro software. After processing, some selected images were imported into retouching software to remove dust. This photo essay is currently running on Sigma Japan’s site and it is published here two months later.

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