Balconies Cave, Pinnacle

The circuitous paths taken by light into caves produce the famous alien scenes seen in, for instance, the slot canyons.  From the outside, the caverns are totally enshadowed, but from the  inside looking out, the gradient in light levels from black deep inside  to white outside reveals a much more interesting scene.

Last  weekend I made it to Pinnacles National Park (two hours south of the Bay  Area) for a few hours, and experimented with some similar cave entrance  photography in Balconies Cave. Though the cave was far from empty, I  found a scene looking out through the north entrance that was free of  cavers. Visually, I think this scene is really striking. The rocks  around most of the image are in near-silhouette and serve to frame the  scene. Usually I like paths in images that the eye can follow into the  scene, but this scene has almost no depth. The path is upward into the  light and out of the scene entirely. Further, the rock placement is very  puzzle-like, and epitomizes the story of the formation of Pinnacles by  intense volcanic and tectonic activity whose radical jumbling of the  rockscape endures to this day.

I’ll have to explore Bear Gulch  Cave (closed this visit) next time. The outdoor scenes are also  impressive, but the gloomy overcast skies stymied outdoor shots on this  trip.

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