View Full Version : In praise of the NPS at Petrified Forest

Kirk Gittings
16-Sep-2014, 14:23
So I had this fabulous time last year at The PF as the artist-in-residence. Amazing clouds etc.-perfect photography weather for me. I made some amazing images and they had great accommodations for me and treated me very well. I will fondly remember that trip till I die.

I've largely had great experiences my whole life with park service personnel but Today I've got to give a special shout out to the NPS at the PF.

So as part of the AIR I had owed them a public talk-I had wanted to wait till I had images to show so I got back in touch with them and arranged to give it next Saturday. I was going to announce it here in the odd chance that someone will be out that way. First they tell me "why don't you come out and stay awhile-we can let you have the residence again for 9 days". Holy crap Batman that was generous! (though I can only stay 4 days so as not to miss any classes I am teaching in SF).

Today I hear back from them.......they tell me to forget about giving the talk as they have arranged for me and my wife to join a two day tour with the "Friends of the Petrified Forest" group to tour the park and newly acquired adjacent lands with a paleontologist, a geologist, a botanist and an archeologist. Are you frikin kidding me? My wife and I are total science nerds-this will be heaven.

Above and beyond the call of duty........and these are not even the same people I dealt with last year!

Peter De Smidt
16-Sep-2014, 14:58
That's great to hear!

David A. Goldfarb
16-Sep-2014, 15:15
The Petrified Forest is a great place. I visited in January, and I definitely want to get back there sometime.

Peter Collins
16-Sep-2014, 17:25
Yes, the NPS is a great example of what government can be....

Deane Johnson
16-Sep-2014, 17:56
Love the photo you posted Kirk.

David Lobato
16-Sep-2014, 19:08
Nice photo. It raises my expectation of what Petrified Forest NP is like.

Kirk Gittings
24-Sep-2014, 13:49
Its incredible when the light is spectacular, otherwise interesting intellectually and "scenically" mainly.

Early tomorrow morning Victoria and I are headed back to the Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert in Western Arizona to work more on my artist residency that I started a year ago August. It is an amazing place with a rich history that far enhances its physical beauty. Some 12,000 years ago Clovis hunters mined the petrified wood for tool and weapon making. Later pueblo peoples built villages and farmed here extensively, building some of their structures out of Petrified wood. Into the historic period stagecoach routes ran through here and their building still stands. The Santa Fe Railroad's first tracks ran (runs) through here (including a Harvey House) and as well there is a preserved section of RT. 66 which is near and dear to me. I have spent weeks there and not begun to exhaust its opportunities. Last time I was there the light was amazing. Don't know this time. There are two specific shots I really want to get.

Drew Wiley
24-Sep-2014, 13:56
Sounds fun. Once you get away from the harried law-enforcement lifestyle of Rangers in places like Jellystone and Yosemite, most of them are very sociable. I had a
pleasant brief visit to Fossil Beds near Kenmerer, Wyo, and their wonderful little new museum. My sister and her husband are heading for Pet. Forest etc etc in a few
days. I told them to check out Blue Mesa, though I'm sure it will be minus its "official" view camera by then.

Kirk Gittings
30-Sep-2014, 09:32
From my recent artist residency at the Petrified Forest National Park. Shot with 4x5, FP4+ in Pyrocat HD.

Drew Wiley
30-Sep-2014, 10:41
That is a lovely squall, Kirk. Once again your timing is impeccable. You managed to replicate the shape of the prominent shadow on the lower left with that of the
right side of the cloud itself.

Kirk Gittings
30-Sep-2014, 13:56
Thanks. When I'm shooting I don't think about such-there is a point at which it all just feels right somehow. In this case I had been chasing such squalls for days up on Blue Mesa. I had my location figured out the first day and kept driving up there every afternoon as the thunderstorms rolled in-set up and waited every afternoon over the next 9 days. This time (maybe on the 6th day of waiting) I was watching the squall move from right to left and made a couple of negs when it was in the middle but I knew they were ok but not one of those that send a chill up my spine. When it moved to the left edge and the sun hit the water shaft I knew this was it- I made a neg then quickly checked all settings and focus and made a couple more negs.

Robert Langham
30-Sep-2014, 14:58
Begging Ravens. Distance. Fossils. Petroglyphs. Have fun.

30-Sep-2014, 20:35
Great image (as always) Kirk,
That kind of experience is what it's all about!

Kirk Gittings
30-Sep-2014, 20:47
Thank you.

30-Sep-2014, 20:54
Superb images Kirk, envy such fine skies. Good to read those folks are so gracious to one of we serious photographers. PFNP is one of my favorite places in the West. Rather mind boggling amount of landscapes few if any photographers have ever carried tripods out to much like some of our other desert parks where 99% of visitors never venture more than short distances from roads or trails. Hiking out into waterless areas scares even rather experienced outdoor hikers. Incredible amount of p wood about. And it isn't just for you B&W shooters as there are considerable areas of unique color, especially purples and other pastels.


Am wondering if they are going to take you into those miles of new park land areas to the east that have been off limit to any travel? Supposed to be some rather impressive sights there. Will be making the very long drive back during an uncommon spring after above normal winter rains when landscapes green up. Best of luck.

Kirk Gittings
30-Sep-2014, 21:37
Thanks for the kind words. I also shot color for a magazine article I will try and sell. Beyond commercial I have very little interest in color.

Yes I spent all day Friday with an archeologist ranger and a paleontologist ranger exploring the new lands to the East of the old park,
Fascinating, unbelievable stuff there.-a real treat, but the time of day was not good for serious landscape photography. I did do some PR photography for them about the trip. There is a ton of great stuff to photograph in the old park that I have not got what I wanted yet. I am working a shot list for two on going projects. At my age I need to stay focused and not wanderer around shooting willy nilly. I sincerely want these projects to be finished properly as I think they will largely define my legacy. I will try and talk myself into the new areas again some time in the future.

Here is a description about the amazing archeology in the new area to the East referring to the NPS archeologist who I traveled with:http://westerndigs.org/twin-1300-year-old-villages-discovered-in-arizona-sand-dunes/

Kirk Gittings
26-Oct-2014, 07:52
These three images from the residency are currently being exhibited at the Albuquerque Museum:


Peter De Smidt
26-Oct-2014, 09:21
First rate work, Kirk!

Jim Noel
26-Oct-2014, 10:00
It is comforting to read praise for the employees of the NPS. We see too much griping by disgruntled people who most likely deserve the treatment they receive. I have spent 2-4 weeks in Death Valley each winter for 25 years with my LF cameras and have never had anything but wonderful treatment from the rangers there.
Your images from this trip are outstanding. Thanks for sharing them.

Kirk Gittings
26-Oct-2014, 18:24
Thanks guys!

David Karp
26-Oct-2014, 18:41
Kirk, these are beautiful. I really like all of them. The one with your camera in it is very fun.

26-Oct-2014, 19:36
My experiences with NPS Rangers, as well as rangers from other agencies, have always been positive.

Kirk, your images in this thread are gorgeous. Nicely done, sir!


Merg Ross
26-Oct-2014, 20:53
I am reminded that there is no easy road to a successful career in photography --- talent, sacrifice, dedication, hard work, and occasional good fortune are the ingredients, regardless of chosen genre. Here we have the results. Well done, Kirk!

Kirk Gittings
12-Feb-2015, 13:04
These three images from the residency are currently being exhibited at the Albuquerque Museum:


Been invited back to the PF in late April to do some more photography-love it there.

These three images from my first trip there will be on exhibit starting this Friday at Peters Projects in Santa Fe:

Kirk Gittings
14-Feb-2015, 17:16
The show at Peters' Projects in Santa Fe. Huge turnout and I sold 2!

14-Feb-2015, 21:13
Nice photos!