Greetings from San Cristobal and the beautiful White Pocket in the Vermilion Cliffs of Arizona three years ago.
Last week I was looking for some images on randomness when I came across these images in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, in Arizona. I thought, why not post random photos from here.
The pictures reminded me of a head-spinning moment I had on a private photo tour/workshop with clients Ed and Kathleen. I was amazed by the landscape and didn’t know which way to look next. It is an incredible place to visit if you get a chance. I know I will return to White Pocket soon, albeit when the weather is cooler. In the meantime, I’ll stay here in San Cristobal where the temps last night were 68º F, perfect for a good night’s sleep.
Lastly, from the same trip, two random shots. One of the iconic trees in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, and one of a random rock.
As always, thank you for looking. I appreciate all the comments and compliments. Cheers. G
Greetings, on a cold and windy day, in San Cristobal. If you bear with me, I’m revisiting a few images from my trip to Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley two weeks ago. I have a few personal favorites that remind me of the feeling of being in this magnificent landscape. Photography is not all about the visual. It’s about the feeling that I wish to convey in the image. When I’m standing out in gorgeous light in the landscape, I’m excited to capture an image that speaks to me. It’s also about all the other elements, heat, wind, rain, sleet, and snow that land on me, burning, tingling, and drenching me that I remember the most, the tangible that makes the place I’m in come alive for me.
In the image below, I’m in Valley of the Gods, Utah, kneeling under a big rock where the air radiates the coolness of the shadowed earth onto my face and skin. It’s a perfect spot on a hot day, and there is also a discovered, surprise view framed by the rock and shadow. Naturally, one has to pay attention and keep a lookout for rattlesnakes!
On a trip in 2019, the Valley is abundant with millions of Yucca plants, not just in Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods but also across southeastern Utah. The pale yellow of the yucca flowers stands out from the red of the monuments. The plants in this image are healthy and promising for another super bloom this year. Keep in mind the native people utilized the yucca for many things. The fibers of the leaves were stripped and used for making sandals, twine for sewing, weaving into baskets, and paintbrushes to paint the intricate designs on pottery. Not the least, the roots were pounded to make a pulp used as soap and shampoo, which is reputed to be a remedy for baldness!
Over the years, I’ve spent many nights camping on the Monument Valley rim at the original campground where the “View Hotel” now stands. I’ve stood and stared at the dark silhouettes of the monuments against the pale light of dawn and in the fading evening twilight. The monuments are dark, with an unbroken line between the rocks and the sky, a scene witnessed through time.
I’ve done this kind of shot before, double exposure on film, so I wanted to recreate it in a digital format. When you stare at a scene long enough and close your eyes, it leaves a photographic impression on the back of your eyelids. Photographing around Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley or anywhere else in this area, the images embedded in my eyes transpose to the next visual landmark that I see. It’s very trippy and is what motivated the image below.
I made the image above from two images similar to the ones below. So you get the idea, and I understand if one prefers either, I had a fun time playing with the image to create the vision I had. It’s important to me to play and make photography fun. On my photo tour/workshops, fun is one of the motivating aspects. If it isn’t fun, then it’s work!
This week I’m ending my blog post with one last picture from Valley of the Gods. The scene presented itself as I came over the ridge before things became technical when making last week’s image. This area has had a profound impact on me and will continue to do so. It feels like coming home every time I visit. Where I live in northern New Mexico also felt like this when I first set foot there in 1984.
I have lived in and traveled around the Southwest United States for 44 years. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. I’ll always enjoy trips to the old country, but my heart lives here in the great southwest.
I hope you enjoyed one more trip revisiting this area. I sure did, in memory, pictures, and words. As always thank you for looking. G
Greetings on a beautiful spring day in Monument Valley.
Last week I stated that I would post a few more images from the Monument Valley road trip with my friend David. I hope I don’t overdo it!
We went there for the “shadow event” as it is called. In last week’s photo, I told you that it had fizzled out at the prime moment, even so, the light on the landscape was magnificent. In the first two images below you can see that we were not disappointed with the second evening’s opportunity.
Dedicating a longer length of time to one place, allowed us to explore the area more extensively. Keeping an eye on the weather (one can see the changes coming far off) we were able to make a judgment call and go to where we thought the results would pay off for a photograph.
This lineman in the next photo has the best view of any job I know of. If I were him, I wouldn’t get any work done. I’d be constantly looking around at the view, and possibly electricute myself in the process. That is why I do what I do and he does what he does.
The lineman’s view, notwithstanding, check out his (were he to glance over) and our view in the other direction, over my shoulder. The vista point was a short walk from a turnout on Highway 163. We passed through a stretch gate, up and over a slight rise for a view of one of my most favorite places on the planet. Over the years, I’ve made many camping trips to Valley of the Gods. My preferred campsite is way in the back of this image, where the rain is falling. There are canyons to hike that seem to go on for almost an eternity. It’s a very special place. Can you imagine the night sky from in there with no light polution?
From Valley of the Gods, we drove up the Moki Dugway. If you have a phobia of heights and sheer drops better give it a miss. From the top, we went west on a well-traveled dirt road to the edge of those mesas on the left in the photograph below. The view from the edge was quite amazing. In the second photo, I’m looking down to the San Juan River as it meanders through the goosenecks of the canyon and beyond to Navajo Mountain.
Back to Monument Valley, the point of the whole trip.
Just because it was there, I had fun lining up this shot of the Mittens with a random chair…
…and this one!
One last look at the Monument Valley scenic drive from the iconic pair of rocks at the valley vista.
Then it was on to Shiprock, known to the Navajo as Tsé Bitʼaʼí – Rock with Wings, and the road home.
Incidentally, this is how our trip began in the early hours of Tuesday Morning on Highway 64 west of Taos, New Mexico.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you get a chance to head out there, I highly recommend it. If you need a tour guide let me know. Prints are available of all these images. Send me and email if you are interested.
I’m on the road for a few days to photograph the “shadow event” at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park with my good friend R. David Marks. The shadow event occurs twice a year in March and in September. If the event happens tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll post the final image next week along with more images from our road trip. In the meantime, here’s a teaser image from yesterday evening waiting for the shadow of the “west mitten” to pass over the “east mitten”. The clouds ultimately won out.
As always, thank you for looking and for all your wonderful comments and compliments. Have a great week. G
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. Sunset from my room in “The View” Hotel. I didn’t make it here this year for the obvious reasons. This was last Spring. I’m looking forward to another photography trip there soon. Interesting that the hotel is built on the former campground where I’d camped many times prior. I often had this view all to myself years ago. Here’s another view from “The View”. Thanks for looking. G
Cathedral or Church Rock near Kayenta on the Navajo Nation, in northeastern Arizona. You can read more on this, one of eighty volcanic plugs, in the region here. This was on a trip last year and I’m still looking forward to another trip to this area when I can. Thanks for looking. G
Lake Powell, Page, Arizona sunset. Back there, ever present is the Navajo Generating Station (updated the plant is now closed). Over the years I’ve documented many scenes, such as this, in the southwest landscape. Here’s the shot I posted last year. In this photo the bath tub ring is very prominent around Lake Powell and on some days the air quality was atrocious. In this case you can see the beautiful setting on a cleaner air day and the approaching sunset. Thanks for looking. G
White House ruin, Navajo sandstone cliffs with desert varnish in Canyon De Chelly, Arizona. The ancient ones sure knew good placement for living space when they saw it and many descendants still reside it the canyon and what a place it is. I’ve had the privilege to visit this sacred place three times during the last four years and many times more over the last forty years. I look forward to visiting again soon. White House ruin can be accessed by trail or with a Navajo guide, when it reopens. Prints are available. Thanks for looking. G
Mitten, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. Still digging in the archives, this one from last year on a ten day trip around the four corners. The last minute flash of light on the buttes, in particular the left mitten, with the dancing cloud, a nice added bonus. Thanks for looking. G
Navajo National Monument is located within the northwest area of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. It’s a bit of a hike down to the ruins. The monument is currently closed for obvious reasons. This image is from 2013. We were the only ones on the trail this particular trip. I’ve returned a couple of times since and never hiked down. I seem to visit here off season. It’s a beautiful place. Thanks for looking. G