Last week on my way to attend the opening of the Kansas Park Trust show in KC I included a stop at Monument Rocks to photograph them in dawn and sunrise light. Monument Rocks are a collection of pinnacles composed of the the Cretaceous Niobrara Formation located in Gove County south of the town of Oakley. Lithologicaly they are composed of chalk, a very fine grained limestone formed from accumulations of the shells of tiny microscopic marine organisms. The down cutting of the Smokey Hill River has eroded away most of the formation leaving the 70 foot high pinnacles. As a photographer and a geologist they make great subjects and over the years I have often photographed them. Last Friday morning the sky was absolutely clear with no clouds which is often not the best for spectacular sunrises, but very nice for the development of a nice earth shadow, the subtle pink and blue band visible on the western horizon in this photograph of the Monument Rock Arch.
The next image was made just after the sun rose and illuminated one of the other pinnacles. By blending three exposures I was able to maintain detail in the shadowed pinnacle without over exposing the sunlit pinnacle. The new digital tools we have today have greatly expanded our ability to capture the natural world as our eyes see it!