Attuned to desert light we travel to find the phenomenal, the remarkable…. the traveling is easy, the finding a little less so. Not that the landscape isn’t cooperating, showing us colors and shapes that are what we are looking for. The trick is to interpret what we see into an image that allows others to feel at least a bit of what we found attractive.
The Colorado Plateau is overflowing with amazing sights from Zion to Arches, the pleasure is in getting away from the iconic and finding places a little less visited. That is not to say that there aren’t areas that haven’t been photographed over and over again in any of the parks and monuments nor am I suggesting that there aren’t new ways to visualize those iconic scenes. But the search for places a little less seen is too much fun to discount.
Traversing the desert can be risky, rough roads, washouts caused by flash floods, wind and heat, cold (yeah, I know but winter can be rough in the high desert) and those flash floods themselves. Sure, cruising down the highway, AC on, tunes on, watching the scenery flash by is pretty easy but you’ve gotta get out and feel that hot wind and the rock under foot to begin to get what this country is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trapped myself in a vehicle and couldn’t see or feel the country I was moving through. Stop, get out and walk, listen, smell, start to encounter the land and suddenly images come to our vision, sometimes almost too many, an embarrassment of riches.
The trick, I think, to connecting with the landscape is to reduce expectations. Many times I have a vision of what I hope to see and this is a necessary part of the photographic process, but that can also get in the way of what the terrain is saying now. Working to bring a vision to fruition can be a very intense and time-consuming experience, and notably worth the effort. However, it is also very easy to walk away from the hoped for scene in disappointment when it doesn’t oblige and not pay attention to what is there, in front of your lens.
Be here now is not a command but a suggestion, but it is the essence of truly seeing.