Photographing Southern Utah – Desert Perspectives

I like desert places. Places where life is scrappy and small and leaves bare the raw geology of the earth.

In southern Utah there is a place that has been molded by ancient seas, its sediments crushed to stone by time. An old place uplifted by tectonic forces and cut back by the Virgin River. The native peoples called this place Mukuntuweap, Straight Canyon. The Mormons declared it Zion, a word with a complicated etymology, perhaps from the old Hebrew for Dry Place.

And it is, a straight canyon, a dry place. But most importantly for me, it is a refuge from the busy, overstimulated modern world.

The rocks here are, at times, red as fresh blood, orange as overripe squash, yellow as the surrounding dying leaves. What life can be found clings to the bare cliffs, huddles close to the Virgin River as she winds her way south. The air is dry and thin, especially as you climb your way up to the rim of the canyon.

It is a place to feel small, to breathe stillness, to listen for the faraway sounds of water, the rustle of deer in the grass, the chatter of the ravens. Things that were here long before you ever came to be; things that will remain long after. It is a place to feel a part of this earth, this brief moment in time, before we too must return to the sand, our small lives crushed and forgotten by time.


Photographing the Eastern Sierras – On the Need to Rest

Blue. Oh so blue.

The Eastern Sierras are awash in it. With snowmelt-fed lakes that spill down the mountains and leave wildflowers in their wake. With cool granite and old pines that rest on their sides and allow the beetles to slowly return them to soil. Friendly Steller’s Jays that chatter and beg for handfuls of homemade trail mix. And the great, swirling basin of sky that holds us all in.

I bathe myself in it. Scrub my mind with its jagged vistas. Pull the thin air deep into my lungs and breathe out the broken things that have made their way into my blood. I use my hands and swollen feet to guide me up peaks that leave me feeling good and small and ready.

Maybe after this I can return to my life with fresh eyes and unbroken skin. A well-fed heart ready to dream again. A renewed hope in the goodness that is waiting for me somewhere in that wide vista.