Colorado is brown. This statement always surprises out-of-staters, weaned on the idea that Colorado is a snow-covered mountain paradise. The truth is that the Rocky Mountains make a narrow north-south stripe through the state, separating the desert and steppe of the west from the Great Plains of the east. While the mountains usually command the bulk of my attention, there are times when I put them in my rearview mirror and head away from them- to the Pawnee Buttes.   

The Pawnee Buttes rise above the surrounding  Pawnee National Grassland, an area of wide-open space, empty of everything except birds, grass, and wind turbines. The trail to the buttes drops through a gap in Lips Bluff.  As with the buttes themselves, Lips Bluff is made from soft clay and mudstone capped with erosion-resistant sandstone. The trail threads through an area devoid of this protective capstone. Water has carved out a series of elaborate gullies and canyons through the soft stone underneath, a small but fun-to-explore section of badlands. On this particular day, we abandoned the trail entirely to explain these badlands more throughly. The walking was rough in spots, but we eventually descended into a small sandstone slot canyon. Along the way, we came across a set of Penstemons growing on the canyon walls. Beautiful, blue, and inviting in their prime, they were now dried, brown, and dead.  They were vaguely sinister, with desiccated tentacles surrounding a Stygian maw.  They became my favorite photo of the week:

 

Last Year’s Flowers

 

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro, f/14 at 1/125, ISO 200

 

Digital Darkroom. This image was straightforward, with only the usual minor tweaks to contrast, clarity, and exposure.  The hardest part might have been picking out my favorite from the set of images that I shot.

 

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh.  This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.


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