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California’s Volcanic North



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Shaft of Life

Shaft of Life
Photograph by Jim Richardson

Greening on a midden of windblown dust, an underground fern garden thrives in Fern Cave in Lava Beds National Monument, creating a biological oasis in the volcanic region. These spreading wood ferns (Dryopteris expansa) grow 125 miles (200 kilometers) from their closest natural range on the northern California coast. Their spores may have been transported by wind, birds, or early humans. Hundreds of pictographs cover the walls near the natural skylight, which, along with artifacts found in the midden, show that humans have used the cave for at least a thousand years. Fern Cave is important to local Modoc Indians, who still hold ceremonies here.



Camera: Nikon F-100
Film Type: Fujichrome Provia
Lens: Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8
Speed and F-Stop: 1 second (perhaps) @ f/11
Weather Conditions: Clear
Time of Day: Afternoon
Lighting Techniques: Used available light from the cave opening.

Special Equipment or Comments:
I varied the exposures to strike a balance between the brighter area near the opening and dark interior of the cave.


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