Trail Option: A personal geography of landscape and place...

Photography — Blog Projects — Field Journals

Black Rock (Signal #3)

Remember about mountains: what they are made of is not what made them… they consist of what happened to be there.

John McPhee

Ghost Falls (Signal #2)

“Our offerings to water, our requests of it in the desert, must be balanced carefully. Not too much and not too little.”


Playa storm (Signal #1)

“A road this good has to go somewhere…”

Fred Nials

Dawn Squalls at Frog Lake

After endless days of blue skies, it looks like there is a change in the forecast. A generally dry cold front will roll through early Sunday morning, bringing strong winds and, more importantly, mid-level clouds and a slight chance of precipitation in the Sierra.

Recon at Carson Pass, CA

The smoke had cleared a bit at StoneHeart, so it was time to see how things were at the altitude of Carson Pass.

Sunrise and Smoke: An Early Morning Decision

Landscape photography typically involves planning, at least for me.

Tufa and Smoke at Mono Lake, CA

It was time to take advantage of a break in the work routine. The summer monsoons had recently encroached on the Pine Nut Mountains above StoneHeart, so maybe there would be some dramatic clouds and lightning to chase.

Memorial Day at Skunk Harbor, Lake Tahoe, NV

I wandered back-and-forth a bit, hoping to catch a composition. I’m not always patient enough to do this, but tonight I focused on simply taking my time

Quinn River and the Sentinel

Slumbering Hills. I love the play of evening light and the softness due to the wavering distance. My mild attempt at expressing the light and shadow of the paintings of Maynard Dixon. One of my favorites. 1/400 sec, f/8, ISO 400; Canon 80D, 70-200mm (118mm). I have...

Holiday at Planet X

One of my favorite respites from road-weary travel in the Black Rock – High Rock country of northern Nevada is a stop at Planet X Pottery. John and Rachel have become great friends over several decades of occasional, but all-too-rare, visits to their home and gallery...

Morning Tarn near Carson Pass, CA

It was on Saturday’s run over the pass that I first encountered the small tarn and its reflecting views of Round Top beyond the pass to the south. The setting is perfect of some compositions of Round Top, a peak I have climbed several times, and I am sure astrophotography from the tarn would be special.

Rowan’s Night

Up early to process a few photos and then a good morning of shop creativity working on shelving in the studio. It feels good, and splintery, to work in the sawdust again – it has been a long while. I used up my wood supply, but I am satisfied with the first...

Bighorn and Dragons

I left StoneHeart about 9AM, a little later than I hoped to. Packed and ready for another opportunity to work on the Old River Bed Delta in the Bonneville Basin, Utah. Leaving Carson City, I worked my way eastward on Highway 50, fueling at the usual spots–basically...

Iceland Day 12: Kirkjufell Denouement

We were down to five – Erno, Bob, Ken, Nick, and me. Nick and I had commandeered a rental van early in the morning, loaded up the rest of the crew at the guesthouse, dropped Thor at some random roundabout near his home, and headed back to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. A stop at the Hotel Rjúkandi was required…

Iceland Day 11: South Coast Return

It was the final day of the Iceland Workshop, and it felt like we had some locations to catch up on. Although the storm had faded, it left a sky that couldn’t decide if it was going to be a backdrop of interest or a curtain of gray. We’d try to make the most of it before heading back toward Reykjavik and the departures at Keflavik.

Iceland Day 10: Out of the Storm

Our outlandish luck finally abandoned us. After several days of weather that supported our photographic desires, day and night

Iceland Day 9: Vestrahorn Gray

After the brilliance of Jökulsárlón, the morning seemed extra dark as clouds settled and the sky threatened rain.

Iceland Day 8: Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach

It looked like we had a couple days of good weather ahead and we planned to take full advantage. Although I had no real reason to, given the late sunrise, I was still getting up early, brewing some coffee in the lobby, backing up my remaining SD card, and loading...

Iceland Day 7: Vik to Vestrahorn

It’s a drive day. Forecasts called for a good twenty-four hours or so before the next storm, so the plan was to position ourselves further east along the South Coast, setting a base to explore the region as conditions change. I was up early to pack. I have a pretty...

Iceland Day 6: Moving to South Coast

For now, we drive through almost perfect golden-hour light—the golden hour that lasts all day here. At first it was a bit frustrating, as back-lit storm clouds danced in the volcanic mountains. But we committed to the goal of the South Coast, the good weather and aurora forecasts pulling us onward.

Day 5: The Light Begins

The van was stuck. We walked from the hotel in the blue light of pre-dawn mid-morning to find Thor shoveling and sweeping a deep, wind-blown drift from the half-buried van. Even four-wheel drive would not get it out and the wind was howling, the piles getting deeper....

Iceland Day 5.5: Aurora at Black Church

Icelandic photo tours and workshops promise* aurora. There is always an asterisk, only Nick and Thor deliver aurora

Iceland Days 3 & 4: A slow build to Snaefellsnes

The storm arrived. Northwest winds of up to 50 m/s (about 110 mph) shut down roads and local gusts pummeled the hotel window. We decided today’s Vogar adventure consisted of a walk to a convenience store and then waiting for the nice folks at Gamla Pósthúsið to open for dinner. I highly recommend this unassuming, excellent dinner house; it is perfectly located across the quiet street fronting Hotel Vogar.

Advantage of Windshield Time — Argenta Rim 2004

Argenta Rim 2004 — I drive a lot. It is part of the job and, for me, one of the pleasures of my vocation; it seems to be a highlight of my avocations too.

Oh, I can process images? — An Odd Start

In the early days of my landscape photography journey, everything seemed new and it was all an experiment

D. Craig Young

D. Craig Young

Host of TrailOption and LightOpt Photography, chasing light and landforms, bound to wander and wonder. 

Field Journals -- Geoarchaeology and the Geometry of Landscapes

Archaeologists ask questions about the technology and culture of people, past and present, to better understand changes in human adaptation and lifestyles  across time and space. And yet, archaeological observations wrestle with geological problems. People leave traces of their passage on and in landforms shaped by natural processes–the dynamic landscape influences and alters people’s behavior, and continues to alter and mask the materials and patterns left behind. We must understand these processes, along with the climatic and environmental conditions driving them, before we can find answers in the sample of artifacts and features we are fortunate to encounter and document.

This is the realm and discipline of geoarchaeology–using geological methods to document and evaluate the landform processes that influence archaeological site formation, alteration, preservation, and discovery. My goal, through photography, blogging, and occasional short videos, is to provide some background and simple tutorials on geoarchaeological methods, landform descriptions, and general case studies.

I have had the good fortune of a long geoarchaeological journey in the Great Basin, and beyond. It is time to expand on that journey, encouraging everyone to share in the wonder and respect for the people, places, and processes of Earth’s natural landscape.