Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Skywatch - A Painted Desert

This shot is an early favorite of mine from a new crop of images taken around NE Arizona, this one obviously at Monument Valley. Kind of a surprise that I caught so many successful images here, because to be honest, I was in a very bad mood the whole day... after the relative peacefulness of Canyon de Chelly, the heat was brutal and it was totally over run with tourists buzzing about in their rented cars, spewing up dust on the deliberately horrible road that winds through the park... and which you are not allowed to leave, so I was nearly at the point to give up and leave. I planned to camp in the area, but it was just too hot and crowded with zero shade to be had anywhere... and all the services belong to one company with no competition, so it's just a total rip-off until you get 20 miles down the road to Kayenta, which is where I ended up staying.
Every time I wanted to set up at an interesting spot, I had to deal
not only with the 105° temperature, but the dust clouds kicked up by passing cars and all the jokers jumping out to strike silly poses against the landscape as their friends or family took snaps. Everyone has the right to enjoy as they see fit, but it just kills the aura of the location if you know what I mean. Maybe I'm spoiled or a bit selfish, but I often manage to find myself alone and at peace with the environment in places like this, and I definitely picked the wrong season this time. I thought I was totally wasting my time, but as is often the case, surprising things happen if you just stick it out to the end.
I often say that I like photographs that resemble a painting.. I think this one qualifies. As the sun gets low, the rich colors of the red earth come to life in a way that you just will never experience at mid-day here in the desert. The crowds thin out, heading off for drinks and dinner, the temperature cools a bit and maybe even the sky which was mostly clear blue for much of the day starts to cooperate.
Check out the SkyWatch homepage for more great sky oriented scenery from all over the world.

You could not guess in what a fantastic place I am. I sit in the shade of an ancient, dying juniper tree, cushioned on my Navajo saddle blankets. On all sides, the burning sun beats down on silent, empty desert. To right and left, long walls of sandstone mesas reach away into the distance, the shadows in their fluted clefts the color of claret. Before me, the desert drops sheer away into a vast valley, in which strangely eroded buttes of all delicate shadings of vermilion, orange and purple, tower into a cloudless turquoise sky.

-Everett Ruess, June, 1934 (age 20) writing from Monument Valley.


29 comments:

Baruch said...

Absolutetly stunning - the scenery, the colour, the subject, the composition - all perfect

Dagrun said...

An amazing shot, love the colours... It really looks hot too. (and I agree that it's not easy to take pictures in such conditions, but you certainly succeeded)

Müge Tekil said...

An extraordinary photo indeed!

Carolyn Ford said...

Can't take my eyes off of it! So so beautiful! I wonder how the colors changed as the minutes passed after this photograph was snapped. I can only imagine...

J. Evan Kreider said...

Finally, work by a Real photographer. I have been surfing today (avoiding real work) and came across your pictures. I like the way you think photographically, as though you were using a large format camera and working carefully, thoughtfully, deliberately. Thank you.

Russ said...

Very nice. Great colors. I'll be heading done that way in early November. I was wondering about places to stay. Kayenta to be the place...

Rob Ripma said...

Wow, what an incredible landscape! Beautiful shot!

Mook said...

splendid colours!

amazing how being a wee bit grumpy can alter ones creativity... but it certainly does not show here perhaps it helped in a way :)

Babooshka said...

Incredible all round image. I hope you have copyright set in place for your images on here.

Highton-Ridley said...

What a fine shot with the advancing dusk lighting the scene beautifully and giving rich, saturated colours.

I love the comp and the way the f/g interest leads you into the shot's great depth.

Nice!

...and thanks for the feedback on my recent posts :)

storybeader said...

You must be patient with people who are just so overwhelmed with the landscape that they end up acting like jerks. Views like that absolutely take your breath away, and then 100+ degree weather!

betchai said...

oh, very lovely sky, that's what we do not have when we were there, i kind of wish we were there early morning for sunrise of early evening for sunset, but we were there mid-day. and spring is probably clearer skies (less dramatic clouds) compared to summer, though when we were there spring, very few people, very quiet, and it was in the 40s-50s! just a few months after, it is in the hundreds, i probably will get a very bad mood with that kind of heat too.

i really love your shot, it is really like a painting or even more than a painting.

The Retired One said...

Beautiful shot...just gorgeous.

Don't be mad at the tourists...they were probably there for the first time and were very excited to be there..I have never seen the desert, so I would be wanting to take photos such as yours, though!

J Bar said...

What amazing colours in the desert. Great photo.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Arija said...

Wonderful, just like our Simpson desert here.

D Herrod said...

The colors are so vibrant.

Debbie @Like a Rose said...

Absolutely breathtaking! It's almost hard to believe that your shots and mine are taken in the same great country.

Mo said...

A superb photo. So glad you perserved and waited until the tourists had left. This is pure magic.

Andy Richards said...

When I first saw this, I thought "Shiprock" (NW New Mexico). Astounding that there can be so many beautiful things that nature has given us to see and photograph!

earthtoholly.com said...

A truly breathtaking shot, Mark. The colors are just gorgeous. And I know what you mean about some folks spoiling the aura. Some just don't deserve to step foot on such beautiful places...

Poetic Shutterbug said...

The layers of colors in both land and sky mix and match in beautiful earth tones. Great shots.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

I'm so very glad you din't give up Mark. This is beautiful and yes it has a very soft feel to it!!

It does resemble a painting and a very lovely at that!
Happy weekend!
Jackie

Light and Voices said...

Your Sky Watch Friday post resembles a post card. Simply lovely!
Joyce

Emm said...

This is a terrific shot.

I know that feeling when you are in a place of absolute beauty and everything is silent and you just experience it with all of your senses. The memory of that moment seems to last forever.

Jan's Place USA and Mt Forest Pictures said...

wonderful.. breathtaking!!

Chrissy said...

A fabulous shot Mark and worth waiting for. Very dramatic. I am selfish too, it drives me crazy when people are everywhere...I like being solitary for photography ;)

AVCr8teur said...

Beautiful shot! I never get tired of seeing places like this.

B.Held said...

this is just superb!

Marius Morar said...

Fantastic gradient. Once in the lifetime light.