Chip Carroon • Above the Badlands

The word brings to mind danger, dusty old terrain to be avoided – not so. Such a vista offers a unique opportunity to the photographer. Chip Carroon tells you how to mine this geologic beauty for the best results

Badlands are present in many different parts of the world. Typically, they are areas with different or less vegetation than normal and pronounced or unusual erosional patterns. ‘Badland’ is a translation of the French Canadian ‘mauvaises terres’, a trapper’s word. The Spanish version is ‘malpais’, literally ‘bad land’. The name implies that travel within such an area would be difficult and, in general, travel across the irregular terrain of a badland can be problematic. However, an irregular terrain could be attractive to the photographer since such unusual ground may provide graphic elements that may not be present elsewhere. Such is the case in southern Utah where I have worked.

These lands look rather normal, as you may see them while walking or from your vehicle. However, you often will have no idea of their overall appearance unless you view them from above. With experience, you may have knowledge of the graphic display of a terrain when seen from an elevated position, but to research or find these areas you may need to study publicly available maps and aerial imagery. Ultimately, you may have to ...

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About Author

Chip Carroon

Chip Carroon worked in the San Francisco Bay area for many years as he specialized in location photography for annual reports, advertising, and photojournalism. In later years, he has returned to the interests of his youth as he continues perfecting his techniques in landscape photography.

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