Darkroom Digest: Scouting Stegall Mountain for Large Format Landscapes

September 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

​In today's article, I thought I would share how I use my Viewfinder iPhone app for my iPhone to scout for large format landscapes.

I live fully off the grid most of the year in the Ozarks and I get to enjoy this rugged, ancient, and beautiful landscape.  I went to Stegall Mountain and climbed to the top of the fire tower to get a view of the landscape over the top of the trees.  The landscape in this area was formed over one billion years ago, which boggles the mind.

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You can see in the picture at the top of this article some lines that form rectangles.  You will notice a number next to each rectangle which represents my different focal lengths for my 4x5 view camera lenses.  I also have configurations for my 8x10 and 11x14 view cameras too.  

By using this simple application, I am able to make notes about my compositions, GPS tag my location, and be fully prepared to create the image that I want on my trip when I return.  

I enjoy performing my scouting separate from my photography because it makes the experience more enjoyable for me and I know I will be fully prepared when I come back when the conditions meet my expectations.  I get a great sense of freedom at Stegall Mountain and I hope to convey this in my print in the future.  



The rugged Ozark landscape of Stegall Mountain contains a cross-section of Ozark natural communities of the Current River Hills region. On top of that the area features Rocky Falls, a scenic shut-ins where Rocky Creek in wet weather tumbles down a 40 foot cascade. Rhyolite rocks form the core of Stegall and Thorny Mountains and were formed over a billion years ago. On lower slopes soils have developed from dolomite and chert deposits as well.

Rogers Creek flows along the south side of Stegall Mountain and on east for five miles through the area. This creek’s upper watershed is nearly contained on Conservation Department lands. Twenty five native fish species live in the creek including the colorful southern redbelly dace, bleeding shiner, rainbow darter, and longear sunfish. The stream banks are lined with alder and Ward’s willow that shade the streams’ riffles and pools.

The rocky slopes of the natural area contain large igneous glade openings with extensive bedrock areas covered in lichens that support exquisitely camouflaged lichen grasshoppers. Scattered across these rocky barrens are little bluestem grass and a number of wildflowers You may also be lucky enough to see the colorful collared lizard that inhabits these glades. Unfortunately collared lizards and other glade reptiles are illegally collected for pets and this has decimated populations of glade lizards at some sites. Please only take pictures of these wonderful collared lizards, known locally as “mountain boomers.” Intermingled with the glades and surrounding them are dry woodlands with gnarled oaks and hickories. Growing underneath these oaks, hickories and pines are a variety of native legumes that provide an important wildlife food. [read more]

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