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Foundations of Stone

(Looks nicer in lightbox…just click on the image for a larger view)

– Usery Mountains, Apache Trail, Superstitions

One thing becomes evident when you explore the mountains and cliffs of the Arizona desert: The stuff under the ground appears to be made from jagged rock and rising stone. Everywhere you look, you see giant precipices bursting out of the earth…and you realize that the soil is hiding some amazing beauty that we may never see.

The title of today’s post is from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers soundtrack. Weird how just kind of browsing for a title helps find meaning in a photo.

This was taken back on January 30th on my lone day off before I started the new day job. I can’t even tell you how amazing that day was with the light, the shadows and the clouds. I was definitely blessed when I hit the road that morning.

What I do like about this shot is the fact I pulled out the 50mm for it. I tend to mostly shoot landscapes wide with the 17-35, but sometimes you want to get something different.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/10, iso 100)

A final sliver of light

There is nothing more fun to me than finding an old photo you forgot to process, especially if it’s something you are excited about. This shot was taken back in January of this year out in the Usery Mountain area northeast of Phoenix. I had been sitting in this one spot waiting for the sun to set and for the clouds to move off the top of the Four Peaks. There was snow on them from a winter storm that blew through and I was worried that the clouds would never lift and it would be a wasted trip. If you haven’t seen that photo before…well, the clouds did indeed rise above! These aren’t the Four Peaks above, but they were just to the south of my location.

The trip taught me one of my early photography lessons: Don’t be so focused on one thing that you ignore what’s going on around you. It was easier here because I was sitting for over an hour and looking around was natural. But the key moment came when the sun hit those Four Peaks and I was so worried about them I almost missed a few other gorgeous views.

This was one of them. The sun’s appearance below a line of clouds until it disappeared for the day lasted maybe 15 minutes. It was a short window of opportunity and that’s what I love about this photo. You can see the sun is only cast on part of the scene…a sliver of light before it left completely. The cactus stand alone, cloaked in shadow, while the hills appear bathed in warm light. Was so peaceful out there that night. Fond memories.

On another note…Arizona is gorgeous. I’ve wanted to move for a really long time…the summers are brutal here and being a native, they seem to get worse for me. But in the last year my desires have changed somewhat I think. I blame photography of course. There is just so much beauty here…I’m a long way from done shooting this state.