A Photographer's Notes on DStretch®

One of the reasons that many of the pictographs in this website and in our book have not been previously published is that they are too faint to visualize with the unaided eye or even with available software enhancement, such as Adobe ® Photoshop®. Sun exposure, wind, moisture, sand, habitation use such as fires, and the breakdown of substrate rock, which is nearly always granitic for the Kumeyaay desert area. While the mineral component of the pigment such as red ochre for red, manganese for black and calcium carbonate for white is durable, the fixative or other paint components may not be. Many of the pictographs have significantly faded since the photographs of Malcolm Rogers in the 1930s to the early studies of Ken Hedges in the 1970s and then, again, since our photography in the past few years. Realistically, if we were to present the pictographs in this book as they actually appeared on-site, most of them would be barely visible or defined. As we have mentioned, all of this changed with the advent of DStretch (DS) by Jon Harman. 

The details on DS can be found on Jon Harman’s website, with tutorials and other information (http://www.dstretch.com/) and is really the only source of knowledge at this time. Currently, as listed on the website, there are four means to use DS: a computer or tablet, on certain Canon cameras with installed DS programming on memory cards, an iPhone or an Android phone. The particulars are listed on the website. In the past few years Daren and I have evolved from computer use only, then we added a Canon camera that would run the DS program and show results on an LCD screen. I used a Canon G12 model that I bought new for $300 with a swivel LCD screen and a ten megapixel sensor. In my hands, the Canon produced DS images in the 3–4 megapixel range when shooting in rock shelters. Since I had a much larger sensor in my Nikon, I just used the Canon as a “screening device,” not for making final images. The next step, which for me was huge, was the advent of a DS application that can be used in an iPhone or an Android cellular phone. While the iPhone 6 or 6s has an eight megapixel sensor, the LCD screen is larger and much sharper than the Canon Camera I had. I can enlarge most images to actual size. While I still use the phone as a screening device, I believe it captures much more detail than with the available cameras that can accept DS. The photo cards with DS, you buy from Jon Harman for $100 for three cards loaded with the DS program. To buy the app for your cellular phone is currently $20.

Since others have written on DS itself, there is no need to repeat that here except for one point I wish to make. DS makes use of many different colorspaces. Each one can be individually applied to nearly any strength. There are other controls that in combination give you a nearly infinite number of manipulations. Fortunately, DS performs well with red and black, the two most common colors in La Rumorosa pictographs. The response of other colors to DS colorspaces is more variable, such as white, yellow, green, and blue. Of these four colors, white and yellow are the two most often seen.

“The pictures command your attention. These photographs of ancient American rock art bleed off the pages and into that place in our minds where
the shamans once lived.”

Douglas Peacock
author of In the Shadow of the Sabertooth
and The Best of Edward Abbey

Normal Photo

Same location D-Stretched

5 months ago

La Rumorosa Rock Art

Happy birthday today to Don Liponi! ...

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5 months ago

La Rumorosa Rock Art

“There's less than 200 copies left of Don's excellent book, “La Rumorosa”, so you better get your copy today!”

—Walt Whitman

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5 months ago

La Rumorosa Rock Art

From "Vestiges"

Monthly Newsletter of URARA, the Utah Rock Art Research Association

June 2018; Vol 38; Number 06

Book Review, La Rumarosa Rock Art
Richard Jenkinson

La Rumorosa Rock Art Along the Border: Survey of Kumeyaay and Related Artwork in Southern California, Colorado River Corridor, Western Arizona and Baja California

Photography by Don Liponi and Daren Sefcik
Contributions by: Aha Makav Cultural Society, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe; Cheeyow and He-Emah, Tipai Native Americans, Campo Kumeyaay Nation; Lynn H. Gamble; Ken Hedges; Michael Wilken-Robertson; Polly Schaafsma; M. Steven Shackley with Steven Lucas-Pfingst, Kwaaymii-Kumeyaay Native American; Ben H. Swadley; and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

Desert Trails Publishing
306 pages

A helluva lot of color photos
The book focuses on rock art and Native American culture along the California-Mexico border. This area has received little previous attention in rock art literature. The rock art is not as spectacular as what we often see in Utah or in other parts of California, but what is special here is the comprehensive treatment of the material. We get the perspectives of history, archaeology, ethnology, and interviews and essays by Native Americans of the region. There is commentary by rock art experts, including perceptive essays by Ken Hedges and Polly Schaafsma. The book is lavishly illustrated with color photography. There are six galleries of photos of rock art that run fifteen to twenty pages each. Most of the rock art photos are DStretched because the artwork is often badly faded. The format and comprehensive approach to the material provide a template that can be used to examine the rock art of other areas. Very highly recommended!

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