Cottonwoods and desert varnish, Escalante, Utah
Desert varnish is a lovely product of chemical weathering upon certain sandstones of the American Southwest. Minerals leached from within the rock are deposited on the surface, creating a veneer which is quite reflective and may appear black or reflect the color of the sky overhead. By contrast, in this photograph, the rest of the rock, already warm in color, was reflecting late afternoon light first reflected from similar rock across the narrow canyon, and became quite colorful as a result. Such lighting is peculiar to the narrow sandstone canyons of the Southwest. It was the next to last day of a week-long backpacking trip and the kind of image of which I dreamt.