Sometimes when an opportunity comes along that seems too good to turn down you’re fortunate enough to actually realize it and make it happen. Five days on the road with some of the most gifted and experienced photographers I know. Five guys: Paul Rogers, Michael Barton, Peter Yu, Mark Van Huis and myself. This was simply too good to refuse.
Don’t ask why a trip to Moab started in El Paso but White Sands New Mexico was a stunning place to get started. 275 miles of white gypsum dunes stretch out at the base of the San Andres Mountains to act as a backdrop for these seductive shapes. Spend just a couple moments staring at these dunes and you can’t help but imagine lovely feminine lines and curves.
As feminine as the dunes are, El Capitan, at the beginning of the Guadeloupe Mounain range, is masculine. Strong and imposing. No mistaking this for a hill far off in the distance. Its rugged and fractured face is extremely close to the road and for miles I just kept marveling at its size. At 8,751 feet it is the highest point in Texas and the surrounding national park make it a hiker’s paradise in the West Texas barren wilderness.
You know you’re spoiled when you get to watch the sunlight smack into something this imposing and yet you still want more! more… more drama… more clouds. Maybe an eagle flying over just as the first rays of light start warming the mountain’s face. That’s how spoiled and expectant we can be. But this is lesson in patience. And as they say, most any sunrise with a camera in hand is better than any day in the office. So after photographing and appreciating the newly risen sun we napped, lunched, hiked and waited for the sun again. Found just the right spot. Boulders. Ravine. Wild flowers. Close to the mountain. Now just to cue the sun!
Yup. We were rewarded for our patience and clicked our way through the waning light as it continued to make everything warmer. softer. beautiful.
Next day: Another early morning. This time for a sunset 12 hours north near Moab, Utah.
My first glimpse at the expanse of the rugged canyon valley with the snow capped Lasalle Mountains in the distance was simply overwhelming. (I’m discovering that with each additional year of life I become more deeply moved with the natural beauty around me.) The wide open scene.. the wind and sky.. my knuckleheaded friends enjoying the edge a bit too much… yup.. this was worth the long drive and then some.
The sun sets. Again we are gifted with a stunning view. I simply click my way through the event – Michael on the other hand has brought out the big gun. Shooting old school. Mr. Barton is looking at the scene on the back of his 4×5 view camera. I click through a couple hundred shots on my fancy pants digital camera. He exposed 6 sheets of film.
Next morning – another sunrise. None of them are the same and all of them are worth every minute of lost sleep – as each sunrise makes you appreciate deeper the world we have before us.
More driving, more short nights and more awesome beauty that is the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.
You get the idea. It was a good trip. I am extremely fortunate to have these opportunities. Michael. Paul. Peter. Mark. I am extremely fortunate to call them my mentors and my friends.
I often quietly pray that the latent image in the camera will come close. That the finished image will convey just a fraction of the beauty and grandure I’ve been allowed to experience first hand. Imagine for a minute that you have the opportunity to photograph the face of God… This creation we are so blessed with having dominion over is as close as we can get.
No pressure there.
Wanna go next time?