Rock Coulee... Looking like one of the inhospitable planets visited by the
crew of the original Star Trek, this is actually a unique natural area near
Medicine Hat in southern Alberta. The large spheroids that dot this surreal
landscape were formed roughly 74 million years ago at the bottom of what was
then a shallow sea. Little is known for sure about the details of how they
formed but they are quite large (up to 12 feet in diameter) and most are almost
perfectly spherical. Some, like the ones seen here, have eroded into irregular
shapes, probably due to spending a great deal of time partially exposed. It
seems as if new ones are becoming exposed all the time because some can be
seen with only the very top exposed and in other places, all that can be seen
is a circular area where the clay appears slightly different, probably indicating
a spheroid just below the surface.
There is plenty of good material here for a night shoot. In fact, I learned of this location from photographer Jim Ainslie, who has also worked this location at length, often spending several days here at a time. This photo series was shot over two nights during the May 2004 full moon, with all but a couple of these images captured the second night. Bad skies and prohibitively high winds put a quick end to shooting the night I arrived.