A Taste of the Southwest

While traveling the Southwest with my family earlier this summer, we put over 2000 miles on our rental Toyota Corolla in roughly two weeks. In other words, we saw a lot of Arizona and Southern California. Despite the relative ease with which my daughter (four at the time) spent hours upon hours in the back seat of a car, I took only a couple of opportunities to make photographs. You could call it a compromise. The unfortunate result was that I did not have the opportunity to visit any photographically rich locations that were new to me, though I did see some very beautiful portions of eastern Arizona to which I had never been. On the other hand, making insightful or engaging images in a brand new location is difficult, to say the least. Being at least marginally familiar with the locations where I broke out the camera allowed me to make the most of a small amount of time.

How short was the time? During our visit to Joshua Tree National Park, where I neglected to bring more than trace amounts of water on a sweltering June day, we spent less than a total of 45 minutes outside the air conditioned car. To add insult to injury, it seemed that my daughter couldn’t take more than five steps without getting rocks stuck in her shoes. That made for tough going no matter how badly she wanted to find boulders to climb on. I was carrying only my 24mm tilt-shift lens and no tripod when we reached our peak distance from the car and the only photographic opportunity for the day. As it turned out, the hot sun bouncing off the surrounding gravelly sand provided plenty of light to hand-hold the exposure without the slightest hint of any lost detail. The liberation from a tripod, allowed me to work with my portrait subject in a very fluid way until I finally determined the best composition. At that point we promptly returned to the car…and drove five hours to Phoenix.

Under Joshua's Giant

The second opportunity for photography included both sunset and sunrise outings on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but with my artistic inactivity, the first of those basically devolved into a practice session. While I was unsuccessful in recording the sunset from Desert View in a meaningful photograph, my wife and daughter and I all savored the beauty of our location until the last light was leaving the sky. The next morning, I drove to an empty parking lot at Lipan Point and walked to the edge of the canyon to feel the wind gusting into my face. I was artistically challenged again, but I do think I managed to make an image or two that emphasizes the immensity and glory of the Southwest landscape under the rising sun.

Grand Morning

I’ve added both of these images to the “Down South” gallery here on the TKM Journal. The versions available there are slightly larger than the ones in this post. If you’re looking for something even bigger, check out this G+ post from last month.

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