Red Cliffs

For me, topographic maps are nowadays the best reading of the travel literature genre.

I spread the map out on the table and through the contour lines I visualize the relief: mountains, valleys, slopes, rivers, lakes, ponds, the depths of the slops, the location of meadows and wetlands… At that very moment photography becomes geography and geography becomes photography, both sharing the same problem:

Thus we confront the central problem: any landscape is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads
– Donald William Meinig

Some years ago, reading a map I saw the sinuous line of a river, on the south border of the Rhenish Massif, the Nahe river, a tributary of the Rhine. Between two meanders of the river the contour lines were drawn close together, very close, showing me that there it was steeper ground. Surely cliffs.

The cliffs between the meanders of the Nahe river are the remains of a Rhyolite massif made up of intrusions and lava flows, during an special active volcanic period after the Varizcan orogeny (290 – 260 Ma).

The bassin of the Nahe have been being formed since 2,6 million years ago, as a result of ground heaving of the surrounding mountains of Hunsrück and North Palatine Uplands. This led to a strong erosion activities, and depending on the underground, narrow gorges with cliffy precipices arose in areas with hard volcanic rocks -as in the Red Cliffs – or wide gentle valleys with flood plains in areas with soft sedimentary deposits. The frequent change between both forms is charming along the Nahe river.

For four or five years I’ve visited and walked around the cliffs – a wall of 1200m. long and 200 m. high – , bounded by a huge number of thermophile species which usually can only be found in the mediterranean region. Beeing native to Mediterraean shores, I feel at home.

And every time I visit the cliffs, I’m fascinated how the powers of nature sculpt, in an endless and constant play, the surface of our planet.

My pictures are the endless attemps to capture the momentary and fragile beauty of these cliffs where some trees survive with unstable balance over the crests and, at evening, a pair of common kestrels fly with gentle and slow glides among the crags.

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