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
24 thoughts on “Valley of the Gods, Big Rock Impressions, Monument Valley Yucca”
Stunning- thank you
Thank you, Kristine. G
Beautiful images. I first visited Monument Valley with my parents in the mid-1950s. It is a timeless place although changing subtlety overtime.
Hi Hadley. That would have been a fine era to have visited Monument Valley. I first saw Monument Valley at our local theater in Wales in the 1960’s. I fell in love with the place and the Southwest. Thank you, Hadley. I’m glad we got the email issue sorted. G
MAGNIFICENT PHOTOGRAPHS capturing the most stunning place we’ve ever seen. Thank you greatly., nina
Thank you so much, Nina. G
Gorgeous photos. I have never been to Utah but the photos bring it home pretty close.
I like the SW as well. New Mexico is for sure enchanted, as they say.
Hi David. Thank you so much. I sincerely hope you get to visit there at some point. Thank you for your compliments. G
Love the joy and appreciation you have for the places you visit. Combining a beautiful image with a feeling or mood certainly helps transport the viewer to these wonderful places.
Hi Linda. Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it very much. I hope you are well and you’re having fun with your photography. Hi to Brian. G
Really taken with your beautifully articulated relationship to this place and your craft, as the two merge. The last image is unlike any I’ve ever seen of the place… and maybe my favorite as it feels like an alluring destination not yet attained, yet tantalizingly near… it draws me in.
Hi Chris, thank you so much my friend. Your words!!!
Have you been there? Its a wonderful place and will draw you in. It did me in many ways. Thank you, Chris. G
That last photo is similar to one you posted last week & is my favorite – as Chris said above it feels as though it’s drawing one in to the distance….what comes to mind for me is a magical place, perhaps… “Valhalla”….
Hi John. The photo in this week’s post is what I saw before taking the one I posted last week. Very similar. I wanted to bringing the background closer as it drew me in. I’ll go with Valhalla. Thank you my friend. G
Hi what an amazing Journey. Your first post reminded me of your dad. Not just the photos but the moods and feelings too. So much amazing scenery. To view it through your lens is a privilege. Liked Rock impressions. Love Alison.
Hi Alison. I know what you mean. My dad was a fast learner. 😀 I took man and him there a few times. Thank you, Alison. I appreciate your comments and compliments. G
Awsome. Planning to go this summer.
Hi Michael. Thank you! I hope you go there. I feel sure you will love it. G
Another wonderful week of incredible images and emotional narrative. Thank you, Geraint!
Thank you, Mark. I hope you are well. I appreciate your compliments. G
Another terrific album. Thank you for sharing it. And take care. jim
Thank you so much, Jim. It was great to see you. Just started the book you gave me. Thank you again for that. G
Stunning. thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I hope you are well in Wales. G