I went to the Monument Valley area for a long weekend of photography recently with photographer and friend Paul Rogers. If you’ve ever seen a John Wayne movie or countless other western movies you’ll probably recognize these scenes.
After driving up from Albuquerque we arrived just in time for a lovely sunset at The Monument Valley. The sun setting to our backs lighting up the clouds overhead, it was really cool to see and capture an image that Grandpa Ansel Adams created nearly 70 years ago. (I’m sure he would have adopted me as his grandson if he knew how much I revered him).
Knowing that morning’s first light on these great rocks would be worth the effort, it was decided. The next day, just as twilight was breaking we arrived at furthest reach of the park aptly named: Artist’s Point.
Backpacking our gear we hiked a bit further and found two perches on which to sit. Then all we had to do was set up; camera on tripod, remote trigger and enjoy a light breakfast and not forget to capture the most memorable scene either of us had ever witnessed. (Speaking for Paul without permission and yes, our respective marriages and childrens births were really cool too).
The predawn light gradually illuminates everything with a gentle wash of light as you’d expect. Then the first rays of warm and direct sunlight kiss the Mittens as an unmistakable sign: THIS is it. THIS is the moment you came for.
For the next few moments we sighted and framed and bracketed this inspiring scene.
In our media saturated society I think we have been so inundated with spectacular images from the great masters that have gone before us that we tend to trivialize the actual events they captured. Never needing to leave the comfort of our lazy boy and laptop to see anything anywhere. This was the real deal.
Sitting on our tiny outcropping – the two of us shared a view that morning maybe a only handful of people have ever seen. This spot. This scene. THE moment.
I’m writing this at the airport – before I’ve had the chance to even get home and transfer my files. Latent images as Ansel might refer to them and I have the oddest feeling that I might not want to see them.
I KNOW I captured the scene to the best of my ability. But – I am oddly concerned that the finished image will fail to live up to my experience of that moment and somehow diminish that moment.
I’ve been snapping pictures since I was 12. Probably burned through a mile of film by the time I was out of college. Never. Not never in a million years would I have imagined not wanting to see something I’ve captured.