Cliff Palace Mesa Verde National Park
Cliff Palance is the largest cliff dwelling in America, once home to the Ancestral Puebloan people, and then left deserted for over700 years. It was rediscovered in 1888 almost completely in tact (as you see it here). It's still a mystery why the ancient people moved away from this area, but the most popular explanation is that a severe drought caused them to move to a different part of the country.
The Cliff Palace contains 23 kivas, one of which is clearly visible in this panorama. A Kiva is a circular room, built below the ground but would have once had a roof with a ladder for entry, and a hole for smoke to escape from a central fireplace. The kiva is the central living area for a family, and around it on the surface would be the rooms they lived in.
It's estimated that around 100 people lived in this small community, and there are around 150 rooms in total which would have had different uses including storage iof food stuffs like grains and corns.
The Mesa Verde National Park offers tours of the Cliff Palace which give you an insight into how people lived.
Some technical notes about this Panorama: This is my first HDR (High Dynamic Range) Panorama. The HDR technique is required because the inside of the cave is much much darker than the world outside. No one single expsure value would capture a suitable dynamic range.
To create this I took 3 photos of different exposure at each of the 18 angles required to capture the 360x180 degrees. I used PTGui to stitch all the photos, and it rendered an output of 3 complete panoramas with the different expsure values (dark, medium and light). I made some edits to the light image (which included the people that moved between frames), and finally merged the light and dark exposures with PTgui. It takes a lot longer than a normal panorama, and I'm sure there's a better workflow, but the results were worth it.
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The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.
The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.
The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.
The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seatle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer.
Text by Steve Smith.