The Queen’s Bath, revisited

Along with all the amazing ruins, the ancient Maya site of Palenque also offers some really nice waterfalls not too far from the site center.  Dubbed the “Queen’s Bath,” it’s actually a series of waterfalls with terraces.  It can be a really amazing thing to see and photograph.

But can it ever change its appearance with the seasons.

Our most recent trip to Palenque was timed to fall just after the end of the wet season, in early December.  Enough water was flowing in the Otolum creek to give the Queen’s Bath some life:

The Queen's Bath

Note that this is a 1/13 second exposure, so you can see that you can get some nice blurring of the water without a tripod (note that you can’t use a tripod in the ruins without a permit requiring paperwork in advance, etc.).  At least, an exposure like this will work if your camera or lens offers image stabilization.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot taken from nearly the same spot two years earlier (but at the end of the dry season, in mid-May):

Queen's Bath (dry season)

Frosty mirror

A few nights ago, we took advantage of a warmer night to check out the “Blossoms of Light” display at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  They put on a nice show, as always, and it hasn’t been as warm since — so, fortunate timing.

Frosty mirror

I took this shot toward the north end of the gardens; with the lens closed down to f/22, a nice long exposure erased the slow parade of other viewers along the path…

A flower grows in Rock City

Kansas — definitely not the first place that comes to mind when it comes to photogenic geology. But it does have some gems tucked away here and there.

Rock City is a small park about a half-hour’s drive north of Salina, run by a non-profit corporation, and home to hundreds of spherical limestone boulders:

A flower grows in Rock City

Admission costs a mere $3 (cash only), and it’s also got some beautiful local plants and birds — so a great quick side-trip if you’re ever heading through Kansas on I-70.

King’s Throne

Brought to you from the Natural Bridge Caverns, near San Antonio, Texas — it’s the King’s Throne:

King's Throne

Honestly, I’m not sure where they got the “throne” part of this — looks more like a geological Cthulhu to me. Just the same, it’s an impressive formation.

The Natural Bridge Caverns are in the heart of Texas’ “hill country,” essentially an old limestone plateau since shaped into hilly scrublands by underground erosion and subsequent collapse (much like what happened in the northern Yucatán peninsula). These caverns were formed when the water table lowered, and an eroded underground space gradually was decorated by stalactites and stalagmites formed when water percolated through the surviving limestone overhead, carrying minerals (largely calcite) into their new home.

Dolls Theater

A little alcove off the “Big Room” at Carlsbad Caverns, the “Dolls Theater” does not lack in detail or depth.  Should you visit, make sure to take a (small) tripod and cable release — this image was taken at f/18 with a 3.2 second exposure / ISO 400:

Dolls Theater

The King’s Palace

A good demonstration of the color of light, courtesy of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico:

The King's Palace

This is one of the “marquis” attractions at Carlsbad Caverns, but really doesn’t look this colorful in person (Journey to the Center of the Earth not withstanding).  But it’s lit by spotlights of slightly different color temperature — so if you grab a picture on your visit, and attempt to pick some feature for your white balance, you’ll wind up with this slightly gaudy view in your photo.

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls on the island of Kauai, Hawaii:

Wailua Falls

These waterfalls are easily captured from a roadside stop — but that’s both good and bad.  Good if time’s short, but bad because you’ve got just one perspective you can take on the subject.  There are… informal… trails that lead down toward the level of the pool at the bottom of the falls.  But so many people have died falling from them, that they’ve been closed off for years.  Officially, at any rate.

The Aqua Azul waterfalls

The Aqua Azul waterfalls, uphill from the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico:

Agua Azul Waterfalls

When we visited Palenque last year, we split the first day between the ruins and some nearby sights.  The Aqua Azul (blue water) waterfalls are a beautiful set of pools and cascades not too far uphill from the ruins along a twisty, winding road.  Great place to decompress!

BTW, sorry for the sporadic blog postings lately — I’ve been working to finish up the next “A Photographer’s Guide” eBook.  This one’s on the ruins at Palenque, and should hit the (metaphorical, electronic) streets in the next week.  But first, I need to finish up some editorial work on it…