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Elevation (June 18-22, 2008)

Ingemar Bergmark

Too Tired to Walk

Charles C. Benton

The Spiral Jetty

Rozel Point, Box Elder County, Utah, USA

June 19, 2008 - 19:43 UTC (13:43 local time)

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© 2008 Charles C. Benton, All Rights Reserved.



The Spiral Jetty, a 1970 earthwork by artist Robert Smithson is found in a remote area of northern Utah. The pilgrimage takes one to the Golden Spike National Historic Site which is itself out in the middle of nowhere and then down at 16 miles of increasingly difficult dirt roads. We took pity on the car and hiked the last half mile or so. See http://www.spiraljetty.org/ for information on the jetty and how to get there.

It was worth the trip. Years of drought in the west have dropped the water level of the Great Salt Lake and the jetty is well exposed (unlike much of the last thirty years). This is my tie in to the elevation theme - a mere four foot change in water level has revealed an artwork previously obscured.

While temperatures hovered at 100F I waited for the winds to increase beyond a steady 5 mph at midday. They never did. So, I fiddled with the kite's bridle and relaxed the bowstrings until finally, barely the fisheye camera rig would fly for brief periods. Four hours of this yielded about forty images. I very much wish I could have stayed until better light at the edge of the day but alas we had to move on. On the other hand, the harsh light does seem to fit the place.

Had no images been taken I would still have been happy. Smithson's creation, and this place, offer great intrigue.
More aerial photographs from this Spiral Jetty session are posted on Flickr.


This image was taken using a kite. A Nikon Coolpix 8400 with FC-E9 Fisheye lens adapter was fired every 12 seconds during the flight with a James Gentles' AutoGentLED. Files were captured to a 6 Gb Hitachi microdrive. The camera was stabilized by a purpose built cradle and Picavet suspension while lifted by a custom built 8.5-foot Rokkaku with lightweight carbon framing. Ground level winds were a steady 5 mph and the kite could barely lift the camera. This made for high drama as the fisheye lens floated just feet above the salt flat with its front element pointing straight down. The panorama, constructed from two opposing fisheye views, was assembled with Panotools and PTGui then run through CubicConverter.

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