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Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekly Post: STONED IMMACULATE: A Trip in the Desert by Robert Glenn Ketchum

STONED IMMACULATE:  A Trip in the Desert
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

As a young photographer, two places I “discovered” by chance greatly influenced both my photographic vision and my personal relationship with the greater planet. A previous blog, LIMEKILN, is the story of the first location. THIS is the second location which I discovered because my car broke down. As Jim Morrison/The Doors wrote, “Out here we is stoned Immaculate!"



Monday, June 19, 2017

Stoned Immaculate, #33:
Immaculate, #33:  Gardeners! Out here! Arranging desert garden sculptures! That is about all I can take in one day. Time to find the car. I stumble back out of the small box canyon and proceed down the wash. Within a few more twists and turns, the domes suddenly drop away and flatten out into big rolls of sandstone popping up from beneath the sand and brush. The horizon is expansive, and the sky is swimming with weather. The sun is about to set, and random rays pop through openings in the clouds, lighting up select parts of the landscape with dramatic flashes of color. It will rain tonight. I regret that my car is ready because I must continue my drive, and this will be my last look at this unusual place I have discovered for a while. I want to see more canyons and luminous caves. I want to see it when it rains. I KNOW there are amazing images to be made here, I just have to determine, of what? AND, I want to meet the gardeners!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, June 12, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #32:
Immaculate, #32:  I ogle my surroundings for about 30mins. and then decide to continue on down the wash to find my way back out into the open and hopefully get to my car. Although the sky is darkening, there is no thunder or rain, so I feel comfortable enough to continue to explore as I walk. MANY side canyons feed into my chosen path, and at one point there are some remarkable striped stones lying in the sand at my feet that appear to have come from one specific side slot, so I feel compelled to investigate. It is narrow at its opening, but then broadens into a small “room” and dead-ends. I am surrounded by what seems to be a strange hollow, carved out of the surrounding rock. There is NO evidence of where the water would have come from to do this, so this is a very curious place. The walls surrounding me are flaming orange with perfectly straight purple stripes running through them. It appears that slabs of rock and boulders have fallen out of the walls, collapsing onto the floor of the wash where I am standing. The problem I am having with all of this is - the rocks standing on the floor of the wash have purple stripes through them, BUT they are NOT orange, and they do not appear to have come from the surrounding walls. In fact, they even take on the appearance of being “arranged” - not just strewn about randomly, but placed in particular ways for VERY specific visual effect. OMG! This place has gardeners! Someone clearly decorated this set.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, June 5, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #31:
Immaculate, #31:  I wind my way back to the juncture point where I first entered this narrow wash, and then attempt to determine which of the various other “arms" I might follow will take me closer to my car and the road. I choose the broadest sandy bed, reasoning that it indicates a good deal of water flows in the direction I think I should be headed. The walls around me are still quite high but the domes are growing further apart. Eventually I come into a big open space with shrubs and tumbleweed, but I am still surrounded by towering rock walls. I have a much bigger view of the sky now, and clearly there is weather, but it does not appear to be upon me as yet. I am about an hour from the sunset and am VERY tempted to stay until the last minute in case there is a “show sky,” so I sit down in the sand of the wash and study the ridiculous arena that surrounds me. As you can see, this is another interesting little spot I have found, and the iridescent caves are following me.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, May 29, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #30:
Immaculate, #30:  The side canyon I have chosen to explore is now so narrow and tall that there is no direct light, all the illumination I see is being reflected from somewhere above me and it is making the walls around me glow. With each bend the rock also changes color so the glow does as well. I am trying to remember to breathe. I round another corner and enter what I can only describe as “room." I am standing in a place where the wash widens and the undercut wall is SO undercut, the overhang is extreme and it makes this section almost cave-like. It is cool and quiet so I sit down on the sand, and once again, as my eyes adjust, the ceiling above me slowly reveals itself. The longer I study this wall the more I see - first sculptural forms, then colors, and eventually, the bluish pockets in the wall seem iridescent. Whew! Perhaps I should keep moving along! It occurs to me that it is getting late. I have no idea what the weather is doing now, and I have no idea where the car is, or where I presently am at the moment. The day has had a LOT of twists and turns.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, May 22, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #29:
Immaculate, #29:  While in the meandering, rock-carved wash (previous post), the walls of the slot were steep but still offered angles that could be scrambled up. Now I am entering a new side-canyon, and once again the walls have risen above me vertically, and in some cases, overhanging. As I approach a bend in the narrows, it is literally aglow, and as I round the corner, this concave looms before me. It is a tall dramatic wall, radiating with orange and magenta hues, and the longer I stare, the stranger the luminous blue-purple colors become. They do not seem to be “in” the rocks, but rather “floating” above them, almost like looking through a wave of water. A WILD shiver runs up my back and I can sense that somehow my day is actually just beginning, everything to this point has been “practice.” Obviously, if I have come this far, I MUST want to play, so, GAME ON!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, May 15, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #28:
Immaculate, #28:  I have had about all of the glowing walls I can take for the moment and so I lurch ahead following the dry streambed, and shortly find an especially twisty section of narrows that branches off the slot I have been navigating. It is REALLY hot, and the colors I have been seeing are washed away in the brilliant sunlight, but this wash just looks so very different, it calls out for me to follow a new path. I DO note the evidence of creation lies before me, as the twists, turns, and sculptural shapes of these walls immediately around me have been created by considerable water force, driving these stones and small boulders around ever-broadening meanders and swirling eddy pools they help to create and make larger. A big rain in this canyon must be wild, so before I enter, I check the superheated sky. We ARE going to have weather, but I do not see it risky yet, and so I follow these tight S-curves a good distance. Eventually I enter a new space between domes in which EVERYTHING is glowing with the brilliant reflected light of the afternoon. Small washes wander off in several directions and I am not being chased away by weather, so I sit for a moment to ponder my existence, and then I choose the first of several very revealing explorations.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, May 8, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #27:
Immaculate, #27:  All across the overhanging wall, colors morph and bleed into one another, and the glow created by the external reflected lighting is surreal, making the wall seem as though the illumination is coming from within. Several rolls of film into this adventure, and still trying to figure out whether to get closer, or further away, the passage of time and the indirect light from the shifting sun create a spotlight effect on a particular part of the wall. Suddenly the more brownish tones turn to ruby red, and the yellows go off, like gold reflecting sunlight. I am breathless. It is like an old movie where the actors are searching for treasure on a map and suddenly a ray of light reveals a specific spot that turns out to be the location they are seeking. I am pretty sure that has just happened here. As you will see in a future post, this image was one of the first I printed from the series: STONED IMMACULATE, but it was not made on photographic paper. It was printed on a linen canvas at 6-1/2ft x 9ft! It didn’t look this good, but it was a decent first attempt.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, May 1, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #26:
Immaculate, #26:  With my eyes adjusted to the shade, I follow the wall along the wash and in several places it has been severely undercut by flowing water and boulders, so there are many overhangs above me. At one point I reach a hollow and overhang so large, it is more like a cave. This may be one of the most remarkable “rooms” I have ever been in. Near where the wall meets the wash, the stone is striated with browns and purples that shift to ever warmer tones as they rise up the wall. The banding morphs into flowing golds at just about my eye-level. Above me the ceiling quite literally glows with the reflected light off of the sand and the other rocks. It is also decorated in unexplainable ways. Some of it looks like fuzzy airbrush painting, some of it looks like highly detailed pinstriping. Through my lens, I also become aware of the sculptural dimensionality of the wall. Much of what I have previously encountered, has involved color banding on relatively flat surfaces of rock. THIS rock banding seems more like various color layers have been blended together in some amazing gooey swirl that solidified into stone. I sit down to ponder all of this and begin to play with that concept of the abstract vs. the descriptive once again. Up close, details of this are RIDICULOUS - check the post next week - but even when I engage the bigger picture, this is still a pretty “abstract” piece of real estate in which I find myself.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, April 24, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #25:
Immaculate, #25:  As the heat of the day increases, the color-banded, morphing walls cause my pace of progress to decrease. For awhile I shelter in the shadow of an amazing overhang that I do not “notice” when I first sit down. Then as my eyes adjust to the shade, the colors on the walls glow to life. By the time I finish groveling around with my camera, the sun has shifted in the slot, and I proceed into yet another very narrow wash between two gigantic domes. One of them is blindingly illuminated by the direct sun. Then I realize the wall of the second dome, which I am standing next to, is also brightly illuminated by the radiant light REFLECTED off of its neighbor. It is a HUGE wall - color-banded, fractured - a gigantic abstract canvas if ever there was one. I cannot back up far enough to take it all in, so I use my widest lens and get what I can. Of several shots, this one best suggests scale to me because of the large bush, then other times I think it tells too much. This subtle line between description and abstraction sticks in my mind throughout the day, and as I continue up the wash. This pathway I have chosen to follow presents me with some pretty surprising challenges as to where that line gets drawn. See what you think in the next few posts.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, April 17, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #24:
Immaculate, #24:  The narrow slot canyon is cool in the shade of early morning. It twists and turns a bit with some substantial boulder debris scattered around, but it is easily traversable. It is blindingly bright when I come out of the slot on the other side of the dome, and at the moment, it would seem that the crystal clear day is going to be REALLY hot. The dry bed I am following widens and the walls on either side get lower but remain vertical and offer little access up and out of the wash. Then, very noticeable bands of color begin to show in this section of walls, and my state of heightened reality kicks in. Charged by what I experienced yesterday, I sense this second visit is getting “strange-beautiful” quickly, and this IS the watercourse I am SUPPOSED to follow! In looking back at these images now as a professional photographer, I see that they were not only teaching me “how” to see and understand the language of abstraction and color, but also how to better understand challenging exposures - this shot being an example of an some pretty extreme of lighting. As this day evolves, what I do not know at this moment, is, I will also learn about very dimensional sculpture, and the ability of solid rock to ripple, morph, and flow in waves. I am entering a “twilight zone” of forms and colors that will encompass me all day.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, April 10, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #23:
Immaculate, #23:  I rise with the sun, trade breakfast for snacks, and begin to wind my way out the dirt road that led to yesterdays adventure. Although the mechanic repairing my car has loaned me his jeep, previously I stopped at the first washout as my starting point. Today I navigate across it, continuing on as the road follows this spine of domes a good way out into relatively untouched desert. I cross several more washouts before I confront one I think best not to risk someone else’s car upon, and with that as the terminal point of my drive, I walk around a bit to see where I might “dive-in.” Then, I notice this. The road is gone because several washes join at this point creating a massive force of flowing boulders. Most of the flows are coming from obvious sources such as the streambed I walked upon at the beginning of the last hike, but this small flow literally comes from what appears to be a crack in one of the domes. This is TOO curious not to explore, but when I said I wanted to dive-in, who knew it would be this “in.” My path follows the boulders to the left, slips into a small slot, and then plunges into that shaded crack. This dome is hundreds of feet high, and once in the slot, I can touch both walls with my arms spread. I have NO idea where this is taking me!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, April 3, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #22:
Immaculate, #22:  With the sun nearly gone, and the desert floor spread out before me, I find myself ogling the shapes and colors of these rocks to the last light. After this daylong walkabout, I realize that my car breakdown, the mechanics advice, and my willingness to adventure out here, has given me a bizarre new world to see and photograph that I am sure is a gift to my budding career. Interestingly, although it is impossible NOT to take pictures of the general landscape, I am not particularly inspired to “document” anything. Somewhere deeper in me I sense there is something extraordinary to be had in the abstractions these walls and domes offer up. I barely know ANYTHING about this place, but I DO know what an amazing day I just had, and I DO KNOW that I barely “saw” anything. Would all of this seem the same tomorrow? For the time being, I return to camp for dinner, but sleep restlessly, as my dreams swim with strange forms and colors. I am more than eager to go back out, take another completely random walk, and see what happens? My car will not be ready for at least another day.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, March 27, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #21:
Immaculate, #21:  With the puzzle of random, odd-colored boulders in my mind (last post), I follow the sandy-brushy streambed I am in to the point it ceases and the water would flow across the sandstone of a low, rolling dome. The evening is late and the light getting very low, so I am glad to get out of the wash and start walking on a stone surface with better traction. The terrain feels familiar, and I sense I am approaching the road as the desert floor begins to flatten out. I would discover my car is just beyond these fins and to the left, but at the moment I am taking in my setting - this exposed line of fins and domes rising from the desert floor runs relatively north-south, so the morning and evening sun really creates some exaggerated shadows and shapes because of dramatic sidelighting. These fins have been finely carved by howling, sand-filled winds, but tonight it is cool and still, as the weather for the day built up WITHOUT storming, and is now fading with the coming of night. It is worth noting that these formations are mostly sandstone and EXTREMELY fragile. It ALWAYS REMAINED IMPORTANT to my friends and I over the years, that we NOT WALK on anything that was destructible. It is all eroding away quickly enough as it is, there is no reason for a visitor to accelerate the process or destroy the amazingly delicate and fragile sculptures that have been created.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, March 20, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #20:
Immaculate, #20:  The closer I draw to where the watercourse I am following should cross the road upon which my car is parked, the more the terrain around me opens up, and the fins and domes grow smaller and more scaleable. The numerous tributary canyons are still coming into this larger wash from all sides, and although the variety of “displays” in these side “venues” changes continuously, it never ceases to be astounding. Certain ones I find most curious of all because they seem so random and unexplainable. By now, I have come to accept that most of the rock surfaces in this “outcrop” of fins are banded with stripes and colors because of various mineral deposits in the layers that are being revealed through erosion of wind and water. But then I come upon something likes this! At first glance, this seems “normal” - some reddish-orange rock walls that shift to a purple hue, both in their coloration, and because of the influence of shade. The longer I ponder this, however, the more I realize there are a handful of large boulders and small stones sitting in the middle of the wash that have a DEEP rust-red color, and looking around, there are NO OTHER ROCKS OF THIS COLOR ANYWHERE to be seen. Just these! These “arrangements” my friends and I would begin referring to as having been placed here by “the gardeners."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, March 13, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #19:
Immaculate, #19:  Heading “downstream” through an unexplored wash larger than the narrow one I had followed “upstream” at the beginning of the day, the broad meanders I am following pass by numerous side canyons. These “slots" open up surprising views of strange, colorful worlds of rock, that MOST AMAZINGLY, are all completely different from one another. Each canyon is its own little micro-niche artshow. Moving between the remaining spots of sunlight and the deepening shade is also quite revealing, as I begin to understand how the blueness of shadows causes the chalky-white rocks to appear to have a blue tone, and magenta bands rippling through the stone faces, deepen into unimaginable purple hues. I am also beginning to notice the details of these places, beyond the impact of their overall view. My daylong exposure has made me increasingly familiar with my new environment, and now I am starting to absorb the more subtle details. The flat light of shade not only enhances color in particular ways, but it also removes the dark shadow cast from an overhead sun on the wind-hollowed caves, allowing me to see more deeply into them, revealing their astounding colors and designs . This day’s end has come too soon as I am only becoming more excited by these discoveries.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, March 6, 2017
Stoned Immaculate, #18:
Immaculate, #18:  The new watercourse was less of a channel and more like a narrow, brushy desert floor that sometimes had a stream running through it. Much like the one I walked in upon, this bed meandered considerably as well, and offered up many interesting side canyons, curious caves, and multi-colored walls. There was something new to explore at every turn, and the insane, constantly changing color banding in the rock was as vibrant here as it had been elsewhere earlier in the day. When I reached this point, a scramble up afforded me this overview and I recognized that fin in the distance as one I had seen from the other side when I hiked in this morning. That familiarity gave me further assuredness about navigating through this maze, and left me excited in anticipation of what else I might see in these several miles of extrusions rising from the desert floor. For the moment, I was at a confluence of some relatively broad canyon floors with a good deal of vegetation, and as I slowly drank it all in, it finally dawned on my how huge and vertical the fin (left frame) was that formed part of the wall I had just circumnavigated. And sheer! However, the day was wearing on, the weather was passing without incident, the light was getting low and warm, and I still had some miles to go before I would reach the car.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, February 27, 2017
Stoned Immaculate, #17:
Immaculate, #17:  After a very narrow section, I passed rather suddenly out from between two fins to find a much more open desert on the other side of the formations that I had been investigating. The vertical fins and domes just ceased and I stood on a dune-covered foothill surrounded by some red sandstone outcrops of no particular height. When a volume of water would push through the dry creek I had followed to get here, that water was being channeled in from this MUCH larger expanse and then fueled further by everything flowing off of the rocks from which I had just emerged. I did not know it at the time, but my visit coincided with some unusually bountiful spring rains that brought out this spectacular bloom. In over 30yrs. of visits, I have never seen anything like this since. The GIFT of the first day! As it was now afternoon, I sat here for some time enjoying the view, having “snacks,” and watching the weather build. I did not think it would rain today as it was cooling down with the approach of evening, so I decided to follow the advice of my mechanic/advisor and I scrambled up over the adjacent hill and descended into the head of a new watercourse on the other side that supposedly would take me back to my car.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, February 20, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #16:
Immaculate, #16:  As I went further back into the watercourse, the fins and domes continued to rise and narrow around me, in many places towering hundreds of feet overhead. When opportunities allowed, I scrambled up onto ledges or lesser summits to have a look at my surroundings, and I found myself grateful to be spending most of my time down in the shade of the “slot” sections. It was blazing in the direct sun. The midday heat was peaking and on the horizon you could see that it was generating weather that was moving towards me. Even so, I no longer felt uncomfortable in the canyons because I realized I could get above them to higher, drier ground easily and quickly, so the prospect of weather really did not change my plans, and I continued to wander on, eager to see where this waterless stream path was leading me. Over many years and visits, I would learn that most of these summits could be ascended in non-technical ways through some pretty interesting ledge connections, but for the moment my attention was on finding the “the headwaters of the Nile."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, February 13, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #15:
Immaculate, #15:  As the walls around me narrowed even further and grew taller, I could feel the comfortable cool of being in this shady slot. The sun at this point in the day was blazing and uncomfortable to be in directly, but “down” in this carved canyon, I was having a very “curious” hike at a much more comfortable temperature. Most of the vegetation I had seen so far consisted of grasses and sagebrush, so I found this hopeful tree quite surprising. Although not apparent here, its twigs proved to be quite thorny, and I would eventually learn that virtually EVERY living thing out here had thorns, barbs, or hooks. When working through a wash with vegetation, it was always best to avoid casual contact. Even the grasses had seeds with little hooks that I would find embedded in my socks when I got back to camp. For the moment, however, I have fallen into a dangerous staring ponder, becoming fixed on the “tree-of-life,” so clearly it is time to keep moving, and to remember - it is all about being in the flow, don’t get drawn too deeply into any one detail. Squack!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, February 6, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #14:
Immaculate, #14:  The world around me was mostly rock - sandstone and silica domes and fins. Very vulnerable to erosion, these formations were being quite forcefully sculpted by the rain and the wind. The evidence of the power of water surrounded me in my shady watercourse “cave” while I snacked and sought relief from the growing midday heat. The wind force I would learn about later, but for the moment I was pondering the world surrounding me in an ever deepening river channel. Over 30yrs. of visiting this location, I would see an occasional coyote, many birds, never once a snake, and little else except a lot of tracks in the sand, and maybe a lizard every once in awhile. There was plant life that survived wherever there was sand, but most of the time it appeared dead and only “came alive” after a rain. Much of this I still had not yet taken in, so sitting in my cool cave was a perfect respite and in the shadow of my shelter, I was reminded once again of how much the more subtle colors responded to the even light and shade. Water and snacks renewed me, so with my break over, it was time to continue further into the labyrinth created by this flow.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, January 30, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #13:
Immaculate, #13:  The watercourse I had been following brought me into the wide basin I have shown in the last few posts. Many slot canyons flowed into the basin as well, some of them coming “through” narrow channels from other basins, others just flowing out of slots that were box canyons - dead ends. There was little soil/sand anywhere except in the riverbeds, and clearly the dominating rock surfaces did not absorb much water, so when it rained hard it was obvious, these now-dry channels would be raging AND feeding into the bigger system. I wanted to see what the rest of that bigger system looked liked so I scrambled down from my elevated viewpoint and returned to the “grand” wash. Upon leaving the expanse of the basin, the broad watercourse I was following narrowed quickly and the domes and fins around me began to rise ever taller. As any river does, this one meandered in big curves, apparently going wherever it pleased and cutting right through whatever sandstone got in the way. That debris in turn became part of the turbulent rushing water’s cutting edge. There were no big boulders at this point, but lots of sand and small pebbles, which must be pretty effective when you see sculpting like this. The day was getting very hot and this damp, cool cave in the shade looked just like the place for some midday “snacks."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, January 23, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #12:
Immaculate, #12:  A few steps farther along the high ridge of stone upon which I have been scrambling, and I can see the narrow wash I am gazing down into comes to a dead end. The walls of the slot canyon close off and a crumbling “bridge” of rock reveals the head of another box canyon, going off in the opposite direction. This new wash was MUCH deeper so I suddenly found myself with a good bit of vertical exposure, staring down into a whole new world. The wall of the wash directly across from my vantage point was breathtaking and clearly there was a picture to be made, but it took me many minutes of pondering and moving the camera position to try and find a point-of-view that I could understand and that would suggest the scale of what I was seeing. This image also makes clear what I said in the last post about finding this strange desert world VERY DISORIENTING. Minutes pass while I drink this in and take some shots, but there is no way down into this slot from my present position, so I will retrace my path along the ridge and return to the large bowl through which the watercourse I have been following flows. I want to see where THAT goes, and to what else it might lead.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, January 16, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #11:
Immaculate, #11:  My elevated view point was a wildly striped pinnacle of reds and yellows, and most of the landscape seemed dominated by those colors until I began to dial in the subtleties around me. The ledges I had ascended had deep slot washes on two sides, and one was so narrow it had already passed into shade. Here the glare off of the brilliant sandstone surrounding me abates and in the flat even light of the wash, a whole new assortment of colors becomes visible. The more I study the amazing strew of boulders, the more I begin to realize the blue and purple shades are all around me, but in the sunlight they are “overwhelmed” by the warmer tones. As a young photographer, I did not know it at the time but this place in the desert, and my recent attention to the work of Eliot Porter with whom I had begun communicating, would teach me to see and understand color in a unique way that would come to define my career 45yrs. later. Another thing I began to realize was that not only were the swirls and bands of color disorienting, but combined with the verticality and unusual ledge formations, having any sense of visual space was easily confused. In some of these shots I have had to look at the lettering in the film-edge to determine up, down, or sideways.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, January 9, 2017
Stoned Immaculate, #10:
Immaculate, #10:  Working my way up along ledges, I am trying to gain an overall view, when I find myself at this point. If you look carefully near the middle of the picture you will see a horizontal band of sand and green shrubs. That is the water course I have been following and I have come into this basin from the right. At my elevated POV I begin to see the waves of astounding color that wash across these rocks. Everything is banded or striped. Some rocks are just blocks of color unrelated to anything else nearby. A favorite word widely used during these years was “trippy” referring of course to some weird event that happened when you were high. Well, THIS is trippy!!! The water course I have walked up continues to the left as it winds between some of the tallest domes but for the moment I am going to sit here and try to take all of this in. It is so bright, it takes awhile for my eyes to adjust, but as they do I began to see ever greater nuance in the colors, and trippy just gets trippier.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, January 2, 2017


Stoned Immaculate, #9:
Immaculate, #9:  Over the years of my visits, I would adopt names for certain areas because of the way they felt. In last week’s post, I called that large rock basin an “arena” because of its expansive scale. Here is what I call a “cove.” Parts of the surrounding domes can easily be scaled, but other parts are too vertical to ascend without rope. BUT, while scrambling on the ledges that can be climbed, you often come upon massive high walls, frequently with overhangs that seem to envelope you while you stand at their foot. I am wandering along these ledges from right-to-left and JUST AT THIS SPOT, this scoop in the rocks flows from red sandstone to these stunning stripes. I did not know it on this first day but I was also taking in something else that would become part of my visual obsession with this place - look carefully at the upper-third of this wall. Do you see the “caves?” Those caves have purple interiors with red and orange stripes, but I am still too blown away on this first visit by what is right in front of me to notice these just yet. Just wait!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, December 26, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #8:
Immaculate, #8:  Somewhat sobered by my discovery of the power of flashflooding here, I continue to follow the water course as it continued its way “upstream.” It eventually brought me to this “arena.” I don’t know what else to call it. It is a huge expanse of space - a big, open basin of rock - and it looks like somebody paint-bombed it! The wash at this point was just the lowest point in the basin, there was little sand and few random boulders, but NO EXPLANATION for this display of color. It was everywhere, and different on every surface. As it was quite simple to hike up the less steep inclines of the domes, I did so in order to have a better view of this “valley” floor, and in my expanded view, the basin looked more and more as though it had been stained or dyed with some fantastically large brushstrokes of color. I had to sit for awhile and ponder this, and I took off my sunglasses just to be sure this was not some trick of my coated lenses, but it was NOT (it was just blindingly brighter, LOL).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, December 19, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #7:
Immaculate, #7:  The wash I was following can be seen coming in from the skyline, upper-left. It cuts quite deep into a slot between rock domes and then emerges at an “opening” - I am referring to the upper-center of this image where you see the strew of boulders appearing to veer off to the left and into that slot. Standing at that place, I do not quite understand all of this yet, but I traverse around the boulder field by walking on the sandstone shelf that follows along the left flank of the rubble. Arriving at THIS vantage point, I can now see the that down-flowing water came in from the right, banked off of the shelf I just crossed, carved out a very deep pool that still has water in it (just over the lip of this foreground rock), and then swept the sand and the tumbling boulder debris through the gap (lower-middle) and out onto the more open plain of the wash. At that point, the rain stopped and the flashflood abated. The water quickly sank into the porous sand and left these boulders stranded, BEFORE pushing them further down through the narrow slot that had become my inbound path. As I would learn, except for the deep pool, THAT ALL HAPPENED IN YESTERDAY’S STORM! You definitely do NOT want to be in these washes when weather breaks!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, December 12, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #6:
Immaculate, #6:  The whipped-chocolate-mud morphing into sandstone continued up the wash for a hundred yards or more and was then replaced by a grainy sand. Still dimpled by the raindrops, I bent over to dig my fingers in and see if it was wet beneath the surface. Then I noticed these tiny rocks suspended on little towers of sand. I thought that curious enough, but when I took off my dark glasses to have a closer look, I suddenly realized every stone was a different pastel color. There were golds, purples, yellows, oranges, some that looked blue, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, after looking around - NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER ABOUT WHERE THEY CAME FROM. There was literally NOTHING anywhere near by that offered up rocks in these shades, AND there was no other place in the wash where such a formation occurred. Apparently I had discovered some strange eddy in the creek, that when flowing with water collected these chips and placed them on tiny pedestal displays in just this one spot, so it would bogle my mind when I arrived for my walk. Surely they would be gone with the next rain storm (which would happen later in the afternoon).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, December 5, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #5:
Immaculate, #5:  During the afternoon before my discovery of this area, it had been swept by thunderstorms, so many of the washes I might walk up very likely had some water in them. My initial arrival was late enough in the day for the weather to have begun clearing, but all I saw of the landscape was close to the road on my first drive by. Eager to see more, I awoke early, had breakfast, and pointed the jeep back in the direction of the washes. As I started out the dirt road which they crossed, I passed the first several and they seemed little more than sand streams across small channels in relatively flat rock. However, I finally came upon one where the road was actually taken out by flash flooding and the wash was a relatively narrow gully cut into the sandstone. I decided this would be my starting point. My daypack had water, food, and lots of film because I intended to stay out until the evening, but once I stepped into the wash, I realized I might not get far from the car. Water had flowed in the wash the day before but it was gone now. This is what has been left. The tiny pattern of dots are raindrop impressions, and you are looking at the edge between the stream mud and the sandstone bedrock. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I realized I was entering another niche environment like Limekiln where elements in the landscape “blended” into one another. I am not 10-minutes into my exploration and this small cluster of fins, domes, and washes and already things are beginning to “morph” before my eyes.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, November 28, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #4:
Immaculate, #4:  On my short drive to the allowed camping area, more of the garage owners advice began to make sense. If you have ever driven from LA to Las Vegas, you probably have noticed how in the great expanse of the desert, you can actually see the slope of the earth. This place I was now going to explore was a series of tilted fins and domes sticking up out of a very large sloping desert floor extending down from nearby mountains. Water off the mountains and the slope flows downhill, carrying sand and rock with it, at first exposing these fins, then cutting washes and slot canyons through them, and then eventually, wearing them down. When I asked about needing a map so as not to get lost, he had said getting lost would be hard to do. The road was on the downslope and although I might wander around a bit in the backcountry, any wash or canyon would eventually pass through to the upslope desert. To return I should just follow any wash back down, and it would bring me back to the road. These formations were a kind of narrow spine rising from a sandy floor that was being worn away by wind and water - AND while it was doing so I would learn, it was sculpting and fracturing these emergent sandstone and silica domes to reveal designs abstract-expressionist painters would have envied.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, November 28, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #4:
Immaculate, #4:  On my short drive to the allowed camping area, more of the garage owners advice began to make sense. If you have ever driven from LA to Las Vegas, you probably have noticed how in the great expanse of the desert, you can actually see the slope of the earth. This place I was now going to explore was a series of tilted fins and domes sticking up out of a very large sloping desert floor extending down from nearby mountains. Water off the mountains and the slope flows downhill, carrying sand and rock with it, at first exposing these fins, then cutting washes and slot canyons through them, and then eventually, wearing them down. When I asked about needing a map so as not to get lost, he had said getting lost would be hard to do. The road was on the downslope and although I might wander around a bit in the backcountry, any wash or canyon would eventually pass through to the upslope desert. To return I should just follow any wash back down, and it would bring me back to the road. These formations were a kind of narrow spine rising from a sandy floor that was being worn away by wind and water - AND while it was doing so I would learn, it was sculpting and fracturing these emergent sandstone and silica domes to reveal designs abstract-expressionist painters would have envied.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, November 21, 2016
Stoned Immaculate, #3:
Immaculate, #3:  In the course of my career, I learned to listen carefully when someone “local” is giving advice or instructions. The things they are saying to you may not register immediately, or you might not even understand what they are talking about until you are “there,” then suddenly their words have new meaning. I could see down the dirt road in front of me that there were several places where low points were crossed by dry washes, so I would follow the garage owners suggestion and chose one of those to hike through tomorrow. However, as I returned to the jeep, I walked past this, and it reminded me of something else he said. He was sure I would find this strange place in the desert an interesting photographic subject because of the rock formations of fins and domes, but he also told me that once I followed a wash back into the maze of rocks, I should look more closely, especially at the eroding walls, caves, and overhanging ceilings being created by wind and rain. I was not quite sure if this was what he was talking about, but I could see that this small dome was deteriorating in a rather colorful and dramatic way, and I had to wonder about what was out in the backcountry that made him feel it was more unusual than this.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, November 14, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #2:
Immaculate, #2:  The garage owner who was repairing my car and who had loaned me his jeep and sent me camping in the desert, offered me some other advice as well. Camping was in designated areas only - no camping in the “backcountry.” Also, he said most visitors to the area, drove to the end of the dirt road, had a picnic, and came back. He suggested as a photographer, I might want to have a “closer” look, and that in many places that dirt road was crossed by dry creek beds. He said I should choose any one, leave the car, and walk “in” following the dry creek. He assured me that was when things would get REALLY interesting, AND every creek was a different experience. The sun is now setting quickly, and I need to set up a camp elsewhere, but at the moment I am at the start of the road I will explore in the morning, and I am staring down at this, thinking, “how much more interesting can it get?"
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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Monday, November 7, 2016


Stoned Immaculate, #1:
Immaculate, #1:  In the late 60’s, I was a student at UCLA and had discovered photography. I was mostly taking pictures of rock bands on The Sunset Strip but after attending the Monterey Pop Festival, on the drive home through Big Sur, I camped in Limekiln Creek
and had an epiphanal moment that redirected both my life and my image-making. Not long after, enroute to visit my parents at their winter “home” in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was crossing the desert and my car broke down. I was fortunate to be near a very small town with a service garage and a tow truck, who rescued me. With my car on the rack, we determined what had to be replaced, and were actually able to order it from Los Angeles - to be delivered in 2 or 3 days by UPS. The garage owner saw my cameras and my camping gear and made me an offer I am glad I did not refuse. There was no place to stay in town and he would let me sleep in my car if I wanted, BUT he would give me his jeep if I would like to go camp in the desert for a few days. He said he knew a great place close by. Kurt Vonnegut said, “As Bokonon says: 'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god.” Heed those words well. I did. I took the jeep, my cameras, and the camping gear and followed his instructions on how to get to this place. After a short drive and then some dirt road, I came to an area of multi-colored rock domes illuminated dramatically in the setting sun. When I stepped from the car, this awaited!!!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
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