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Bears Ears — New B&W Gallery

Updated: May 11, 2021

Don recently added a gallery of his black and white images from Bears Ears National Monument. The first images will be of sites in the general area of Comb Ridge. More images will be added to the gallery in the future.



Defensive site with a masonry structure poised on top of a huge, rhomboidal rock slab that is separating from the cliff face. This photo was made from a position high up a talus slope and nearly at site level. Photo © Donald J. Rommes



Most of my previously published photos have been in color rather than black and white. The choice was intentional and made to help people who have never been to Bears Ears better understand the "reality" of its archaeologic sites and their surrounding physical environment.


Black and white eliminates the potential distraction of color and reduces the subject to form, tonality, texture and light. In a way, black and white is simpler than color. There is no quibbling about the exact hue of the blue sky, or the color of vegetation and stone. Rather, the focus is on the forms of the structures themselves and their relationship to their surroundings.


My B&W images of Ancestral Puebloan sites tend to be lighter than many I have seen published. Perhaps that's because I see these structures, dwellings, and rock art as sites made by the living and not as dark and foreboding ruins from the past. I like seeing detail in the shadows and infusing a feeling of light in the sites. After all, I am trying to illuminate the culture of people descended from the original inhabitants of North America—not to emphasize the dark mystery of the unknowable past.



This site is high up a steep slope in the uppermost of two alcoves. The little box-like structure was invisible from below—the main attraction was the figure "7" made by the dark lines of desert varnish. Upon arriving at the alcove, this structure was revealed—a reward for climbing the canyon wall. In post processing, I lightened the structure to emphasize its importance in the composition. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

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