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