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Over Kata Tjuta - The Olgas

Over Kata Tjuta - The Olgas
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2002-07
Categories: Desert
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Earth from Above, Geological Wonders, High Altitude [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-07-19 5:15
Viewed: 7293
Points: 52
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This was taken from a light aircraft - the same flight as the potings 'Uluru Glowing' and 'Lake Amadeus'. Kata Tjuta or the Olgas is/are Uluru/Ayer's Rock less well known neighbour. They are composed of similar material, but it is bedded differently - hence the rounded domes rather than the monolith as in Uluru (Uluru can be seen in the distance in the top left).

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Kata Tjuta, and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations located about 365 km southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km to the east and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The 36 domes, covering an area of 21.68 km², are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1066 m above sea level, or approximately 546 m above the surrounding plain (203 m higher than Uluru).Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.

The Pitjantjajara name Kata Tjuta means 'many heads'. The site is as sacred to the Indigenous people as Uluru.

The alternative name, The Olgas, comes from the tallest peak, Mt Olga. At the behest of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Mt Olga was named in 1872 by Ernest Giles, in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg. She and her husband King Karl had marked their 25th wedding anniversary the previous year by, amongst other things, naming Mueller a Freiherr (baron), making him Ferdinand von Mueller; this was his way of repaying the compliment.

On 15 December 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names consisting of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name. As a result, Mount Olga was renamed Mount Olga / Kata Tjuta. On 6 November 2002, following a request from the regional Tourism Association, the order of the dual names were officially reversed to Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga.

There are many Pitjantjatjara Dreamtime legends associated with this place and indeed everything in the vicinity including, of course, Uluru. A number of legends surround the great snake Wanambi who is said to live on the summit of Mount Olga and only comes down during the dry season.

(Bottom left) This is Desert Varnish:-

Desert varnish, or rock varnish is a dark coating found on exposed rock surfaces in arid environments.Desert varnish forms only on physically stable rock surfaces that are no longer subject to frequent precipitation, fracturing or sandblasting. The varnish is primarily composed of particles of clay along with iron and manganese oxides. There is also a host of trace elements and almost always some organic matter. The color of the varnish varies from shades of brown to black.

Originally scientists thought that the varnish was made from substances drawn out of the rocks it coats. Microscopic and microchemical observations, however, show that a major part of varnish is clay (which could only arrive by wind). Clay, then, acts as a substrate to catch additional substances that chemically react together when the rock reaches high temperatures in the desert sun. Wetting by dew is also important in the process.

Another important characteristic of desert varnish is that it has an unusually high concentration of manganese. Manganese is relatively rare in the earth's crust, making up only 0.12% of its weight. In desert varnish, however, manganese is 50 to 60 times more abundant. This significant enrichment is thought to be caused by biochemical processes (many species of bacteria use manganese).

Even though it contains high concentrations of iron and manganese, there are no significant modern uses of desert varnish. However, some Native American tribes created petroglyphs by scraping or chipping away the dark varnish to expose the lighter rock beneath.

Desert varnish often obscures the identity of the underlying rock, and different rocks have varying abilities to accept and retain varnish. Limestones, for example, typically do not have varnish because they are too water soluble and therefore do not provide a stable surface for varnish to form. Shiny, dense and black varnishes form on basalt, fine quartzites and metamorphosed shales due to these rocks' relatively high resistance to weathering.

ramthakur, eqshannon, Evelynn, jaycee, maurydv, xTauruSx, nglen, zulfu, bahadir, Luis52, CeltickRanger, Dis. Ac., Miss_Piggy, uleko, boreocypriensis, marhowie, pilonm, Ingrid1 has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To eqshannon: CessnaJamesp 1 07-19 09:34
To Evelynn: My SubjectJamesp 1 07-19 09:30
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Critiques [Translate]

James, you have truly seen it all, man.
Goodness gracious, what a mind-boggling aerial view of these rocks in Australia!
We have seen much of that single big one, but this is something much more interesting. From this aerial perspective, the magnitude of these rocks is not dwarfed at all; on the contrary.
The slanting light has lit the rocks beautifully, creating great contrasts at the same time. The depth of view is magnificent and Uluru looks impressive even from this distance.
Thanks for this great image and best regards.

great light, TFS Ori

Very nice if scanned for sure...good lighting and recreation of the scene via this method. When you say Light aircraft...do you mean something like ultra-lite or Cessna or what? Very well then.

Having travelled quite a bit in Utah I have seen lots of native petroglyphs and wondered about the "varnish". I suppose that is one difference between lazy me and more dedicated you! You find out what things are and probably remember them too!!!!!!!!!! MY memory is so bad! Thanks, I found your note very interesting.

The variety in your gallery is staggering! I love the light in this shot.

Evelynn : )

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-07-19 9:20]

Hi James,

We have red rocks in Arizona and there are many in Utah but they don't glimmer like this. And of course they aren't rounded as these are. A wonderful shot from the air with excellent colors and details.


Affascinante paesaggio dall'alto, il sole radente esalta il colore rossastro di queste bellissime rocce e crea questo forte contrasto di luci e ombre, mi piace inoltre la visione allargata sul grande spazio. Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Hello James,
Beautiful landscape picture of this interesting place. Good light. Great sharpness. Very nice detail.
G's, Deniz

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-07-19 12:01]

Hi James. I can only look at your pictures and dream that maybe one day i will be able to go and see some of these beautiful sights, This light from behind you in this one has given a very warm glow to the Olgas. amazing colours. well done TFS.

Hi James,
It is a beautiful colour through this varnish you are talking about in your note. Especially with this low lighting.
Well done

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-07-19 12:55]

Hello James, wonderful shot of this beautiful scenery with nice details. TFS. Regards,

Hello James, great landscape capture with wonderful colours. TFS. Greetings,

On the road now with slow mobile connection. Just marking up the best ones this time.

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-07-19 14:15]

Hola James.
Great Image James. Lovely colors. It could be easy to be in a fine magazine. I like the way it was taken.

Hi James
Amazing colors,Truly beautiful place and very interesting notes...
Kind regards,

hello James

in one word WOW ! what a superb aerien shot
with the mix and the contrast of these 2 colours on the image,



  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-07-19 21:06]

Hello James

A beautiful capture,the colours and lighting are wonderful.
Excellent POV,the vastness of this region is easily seen.
Nicely composed.


Hi James
Pretty landscape with beautiful pov and composition.
interesting notes too.


Hallo James
Your landscape images posted lately has taken me on holiday a few times this last week or so. – Free of charge of course. Over Kata Tjuta - The Olgas is no exception. This aerial view of these rounded domes is great. The shadow spots in between add some kind of ominousness feeling to it, but then on the other hand the sunlight overshadow that feeling. The view looking back far in the distance is just awesome and such a reality of the greatness of the Creation and beauty of nature. Thank you for taking me on holiday by plane to a destination I’ll never have the opportunity to visit. The free ride was most enjoyable.
My best regards.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-07-20 0:39]

Hello James,
WHat an impressive view of these fantastic red rock formations. The light and shadows are wonderful as well as the colours. Very well done!
TFS and cheers, Ulla

Hello James, a perfectly composed landscape shot of these beautiful place my friend! Your notes are excellent! TFS. Cheers,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-07-20 2:19]

Hi ,just marking,no time,i have a lot of work...Luciano

Hi James,
The time of day is everything in a shot like this..And your image proves it. The long shadows transform the image giving it a great sense of depth, and a life of its own..
Thanx for the notes on the geology, and the "desert varnish" look.
Well done,

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-07-21 6:50]

Very nice landscape shot James, I love the light in it! Shap with a perfect exposure, well done, thanks!


Hello James,

Wonderful pictures with a great textures due to the light and shadows... The only thing is that the horizon is not ... horizontal ;-) Easy to correct in Photoshop.

Great job and TFS


Hi James
What a view! The rocks are such a gorgeous colour in the soft, low light. The shadows from the rocks and surrounding vegetation add lots of interest to your image.

It's must have been an interesting flying over this area getting a birds eye view. Very interesting notes.
TFS Janice

Dear James,
We never went to Australia. - and now I look at your photo - And i regret it. Still, the world is so big, and traveling in Europe for instance one can see more in 6 weeks than in the same timespan one could in Australia...

I see in your profile, you also fled to a less wet climate...:-)

Your photo is breathtaking, the aerial view so much better than shots taken at ground level!

Thanks for the comprehensive information (notes) and sharing your work. I add your photo to my theme "high altitude"

Take care,
Warm greetings from the TzaneenDam, Limpopo, South Africa

Ingrid Shaul

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