(Great) Salt Lake City?

April 14, 2017

Slcgsl693c_24feb17 (1)

Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

It seems a good idea to ponder occasionally our place in the scheme of things, as this photo helps us do, in a way. This panoramic evening scene, captured just before sunset on a chilly, below-freezing winter's day, features the Wasatch Mountains, freshly blanketed with what Utah likes to promote, for its canyon ski resorts, as “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” Bolstered by a wet winter, the beautiful sky and peaks are reflecting in the shallow waters of the eastern bays of Great Salt Lake. The largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, as well as the biggest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere, it's a terminal, or endorheic, lake (with no outlet to the sea), and as a result is much saltier than the Earth’s oceans. Due to a multi-year drought and the diversion of water for use upstream, the lake’s surface level is at near-record lows.

Have you noticed the tiny rectangles by the shore toward the left? They represent the skyline of downtown Salt Lake City — itself originally known as Great Salt Lake City when pioneers first established the community in the mid-19th century. Utah’s State Capitol is a domed structure on that rise just to the left of the teensy skyline. An illuminated late-afternoon squall behind the city’s skyscrapers is helping to define the seemingly little buildings.

The Wasatch Mountains, variously composed of igneous (granite) and sedimentary (mostly limestone) layers, were shaped by 20 million years of geologic faulting and Ice Age glaciation. The highest of them semi-visible here — Mount Olympus, Twin Peaks and Lone Peak — top out near or just above 11,000 ft (3,354 m) in elevation. Yet at this angle and from this vantage, along a causeway to Antelope Island, you might be hard-pressed to discern that a million people live right there, in the valley beyond Great Salt Lake’s southern shore. Photo taken on February 24, 2017.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D3200; Lens: AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED; Focal Length: 70mm (35mm equivalent: 105mm); Aperture: ƒ/5.6; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 100.