Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The colorful Badlands

with 14 comments

Okay, so I’ve been holding out on you when it comes to the best color I saw in the Badlands of South Dakota on May 31st.

Well-travelled Austin photographer Rick Capozza explained the colors to me: “White layers are volcanic ash or tuff as they call it in Big Bend. Tan and gray are sand and gravel. Red and orange are iron oxide deposits, primarily ferric oxide. Purple shale colors represent manganese deposits and yellow layers are ferrous sulfate.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 8, 2017 at 4:48 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Wow! Mango, strawberry, and vanilla sorbet. Mocha & cream sherbet in the background. (At least I think it’s cream, maybe Milk of Magnesia.)
    What a fantastic scene!

    Robert Parker Teel

    August 8, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    • Someone must have been hungry this morning.

      As we drove through the Badlands from east to west, only well into the afternoon did we get to the most colorful formations. They were worth the wait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2017 at 11:56 AM

  2. I love it! I had forgotten all the vivid colors in some places. I’d guess plants really struggle to survive and propagate.


    August 8, 2017 at 10:39 AM

    • I can’t say I’d forgotten, because before this trip I hadn’t known how colorful some of the formations are.

      As I understand it, the main reason this area came to be known as the Badlands is that the dry land is bad for farming and ranching. As a national park, we’re free to enjoy the formations with no thought to practicality.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2017 at 11:59 AM

  3. Very nice! Love the colors and framing!

    Reed Andariese

    August 8, 2017 at 8:17 PM

  4. This is astonishing. I expected rust, gray, and reddish-orange, but the other colors are a complete surprise. The yellow layers remind me of the huge piles of sulfur that used to be stored at the Galveston Sulphur Terminal. I tried but failed to figure out if sulphur and ferrous sulphate are related. They certainly are by color, if not by chemistry.

    As for tuff, the first tuff that came to mind was the classic Texas “Tuff”


    August 8, 2017 at 10:41 PM

  5. Some serious layers there Steve .. nice array of colours


    August 9, 2017 at 4:41 AM

    • This time, Julie, I think the United States has something for which there’s no counterpart in New Zealand, as scenic as your country is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2017 at 6:36 AM

  6. […] in Austin is going to compare to the Badlands of South Dakota. Sorry, Austin, that’s just how it is. Still, we have some much smaller […]

  7. Beautiful.


    August 9, 2017 at 5:54 AM

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