Three Rivers
Petroglyph Site

The photograph below is of interest because it utilized reflectors in a daylight landscape setting. 
How this was done will be featured in a near-future issue ofThe Luminous Landscape Video Journal.

Rock of Ages

Less than a one hour drive north ofAlamogordoNew Mexico is theThree Rivers Petroglyph Site. Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by petroglyphs and pictographs, and whenever I visit the American Southwest I take what opportunities I can to view and photograph them.

This site is one of the richest in the country, with more than 21,000 such stone carvings to be found on the long and steep, but not all that difficult 1 mile round-trip hike up a basaltic ridge.

Three Rivers Petroglyph — New Mexico, 2001

Photographed with a Pentax 67II and 55~100mm f/4.5 zoom on Provia 100F

One of the most striking petroglyph settings is at the very far end of the ridge, beyond where most people venture. We did the hike mid-day and discovered it, and decided that this would make a great evening photograph. After several hours of exploration we came back about an hour before sunset and organized ourselves for the shot.

Michael positions the larger reflector to fill-in the rear face of the Petroglyph stone

What was immediately clear was that with the sun setting to the far left of the frame the right side of the rock would end up in deep shadow. Fortunately we had a couple of folding reflectors (Litedisk) with us. We placed a large one tucked in invisibly behind the rocks on the right and we took turns holding a smaller one and using it to reflect the light of the setting sun onto the top face of the rock.

Steve Kossack takes his turn filling-in the top face of the stone with a small gold-coloured reflector

In addition the shot required the use of a 2 stop split neutral density filter to bring down the hot sky and also a polarizer to tame glare and reflections on the rock face.

It was a tricky set up, but resulted in an appealing image — especially for anyone interested inRock Art.  It was definitely helpful to have another photographer to work with in positioning and holding the reflectors. I only wish that the sky had been a bit more interesting.

If you’re driving between a shoot inBosque del ApacheandWhite Sands, as we were, I recommend that you stop for a while atThree Rivers. A fascinating part of American pre-history is to be found here. The site is located north ofAlamogordo,just a few miles off Highway 54, at theThree Riversjunction.

Some of my other petroglyph photographs are found on this site’sRock Artpage. 

This location and a segment on how to use reflectors when doing landscape photography
will be featured in a near-future issue ofThe Luminous Landscape Video Journal.