There comes a time in a photographers life that you have to step back from the camera and observe life independent from the viewfinder. I haven't encountered that time yet in my life. I still can't enjoy looking at the world without wanting, (craving?) to photograph the scenes that I see. I try to spend time without having a camera close by, but it is hard for me, like I am missing one of my senses.
Then there are times where your whole intent is to immerse yourself in recording those precious moments of beauty that constantly surround us that not everyone has the wit or ability to see. Back in January I had one of those times. A three day trip to a Balloon Festival in Bluff, UT with a few side trips and scenic routes added in.
Leaving the Salt Lake Valley just after 5:00 am with my brother and his daughter I headed to a favorite place, for what may be the last visit for awhile. New horizons await, there is so much to see in Utah.
Our first stop: The Wedge Overlook/The Little Grand Canyon, in the heart of the San Rafael Swell. It is a most amazing area. It is accessed via a well maintained dirt road that turns off of Utah Route 10, just before the town of Castle Dale. We left pavement just as the sun was cresting the buttes to the east. Looking back I saw the setting moon just above the cliffs to the west. Lacking the time to set up my tripod I stopped and braced myself against a fence post just in time to catch the moon kissing the horizon.
Turning more southwest, the light gilding the tops of the walls highlights the textures of the formations, the snow adding illumination to the shadowed canyon stretching to the San Rafael River far below.
Leaving the higher plateau edge, we drove east to the entrance to Buckhorn Draw (also known as Buckhorn Wash) I experienced the area as I had not before, instead of the fall colors I got brown and dead dusty yellow. The skeletal cottonwoods simply waiting for the warming spring and the water running down from the high country to give them new life. The incredible harshness of the environment gives no quarter, if you do not learn to conquer then you eventually die. The beauty of the limbs gnarled by their struggle to survive frames the sheer massiveness of the buttes and canyon walls.
The ancient peoples left their marks, and others less ancient as well. A testament to the impermanence of life, and the long reaching effects of those who have passed on.
Choosing to make an image as surreal as the place it is taken, I am disturbed by the over emphasis of the colors and textures, yet I wonder if this is not closer to the visions of the old ones, altering their senses by chemical means as they celebrated the traditions that kept them together as one.
The monuments of modern men being both more permanent and less graceful. Proceeding further down the draw lies a now unused bridge, the mark of the need for quick and easy transportation. Constructed in a place far from anywhere and a time where labor was cheap.
The details of the structure provide an abstract beauty an "industrial art" you could call it.
Heading south out of the swell to Interstate 70 and Gas in Green River, we journeyed on our way, no longer stopping but simply looking at the sights without the lens to select only those parts we focused on. In anticipation of the simple power and beauty of hot air balloons awaiting us the next morning.
If you would like to see a few more images, from this part of the trip, they may be viewed here.