creativity

...now browsing by category

 

Silence & Movement

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

“Silence. We are seldom conscious when silence begins—it is only afterward that we realize what we have been a part of. In the night journeys of Canada geese, it is the silence that propels them. Thomas Merton writes, ‘Silence is the strength of our interior life.… If we fill our lives with silence, then we will live in hope.’”   — Terry Tempest Williams


It might not seem surprising that silence has been on my mind lately, given my lack of posts this year.  The truth is that 2014 has been very busy, and I’ve spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation.  There is peace to be found in silence: sometimes we are afraid the moment will be ruined with words that can’t do it justice; sometimes we find forgotten spaces within ourselves–spaces that have long since been buried.  We tend to not wander into these open and unprotected expanses, but rather build against them, filling them with things that obscure our view.

Normally by this time of year, I’ve taken several trips.  By contrast, I’ve been content to focus on local landscapes this year.  One of my favorite images so far was made in a little grove of trees in the riverbed along my normal Saturday morning running route.  I’ve been eyeing it for weeks, and the weather finally cooperated on a morning I was able to get down there.

Lichen-covered trees

I’ve also taken advantage of clearing storms in the mountains, and an invitation from a friend for an early morning hike on the beach.  There’s been a certain joy in creating images close to home this year.  Normally my trips are planned out on a limited itinerary and involve tiring travel.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy visiting far-off places (not even close), however by removing the stress of an abbreviated schedule and unfamiliar landscapes from the equation, I have the flexibility to let the light rather than the calendar dictate the situation, allowing me to relax and be more creative.

Movement seems to be an unintended theme in my images so far this year, but perhaps it’s fitting; we’re always quietly in motion, always changing.  When the clutter and fillers are cleared away, our own evolution becomes unmistakable and unmissable in the image-making process.  It’s these discrete, silent moments of self-reflection that propel us in making inspired art.  So it is that the open spaces we have unearthed no longer represent dullness, but vision and hope.

Wind-blown fog in predawn light

 

Coastal sunrise

A trip to the San Jacinto Mountains

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Not to have known–as most men have not–either the mountain or the desert is not to have known one’s self.  Not to have known one’s self is to have known no one.  – Joseph Wood Krutch


This year for Memorial Day, we decided to stay local and go camping in the San Jacinto Mountains, one of the major peninsular mountain ranges in southern California.  For those traveling through the Banning Pass on I-10, the imposing north face of San Jacinto Peak–the range’s high point–is really hard to miss, and that’s about the only taste most people get of San Jacintos.

The more time I spend there, the more I really like this mountain range.  Although not as glaciated as parts of the Sierra (think Yosemite), the granitic formations in the San Jacintos are spectacular.  Similarly, because the range is a sky island surrounded by desert, it hosts an interesting variety of plants and animals.

Because of the dramatically steep slopes of the San Jacintos, there are many opportunities for interesting landscape compositions, including the granitic formations I mentioned above, as well as the ability to look out on most of southern California.  This time of year, when the lowlands of southern California are receiving a fairly heavy marine layer, the atmospherics viewed from above can be interesting.

Sunset in the San Jacinto Mountains

Like a lot of people I know, I spend time daydreaming about places I would love to visit and photograph, often forgetting almost completely about the places that are practically in my backyard.  Getting to know these places can be valuable, because one realizes–as I am often reminded–that they can be just as beautiful as the faraway locations we invest so much time and money in getting to.  Similarly, depending on exactly where your “backyard” is, these locations can be gloriously under-photographed, allowing for freedom of expression and creativity.  If you have nothing to compare your image to, it is much less constraining to the creative process.

Intimate mountain landscape

Perhaps instead of challenging ourselves to produce a new take on an “icon,” we should challenge ourselves to discover a totally new place, unphotographed and unknown.  It might end up being a bust, but at least you’ll know.

A life well-lived

Monday, March 18th, 2013

In my last post, I reflected a little bit about the landscapes and experiences that make us who we are; I know that much of who I am is tied to the landscapes of the Southwest.  Since then, through a series of separate but related conversations with friends, I’ve been thinking more about a life lived to its fullest.

The path I followed in life was probably not unlike that of many others.  I went to college, got a job, started a family, and now, here I am.  There was a crossroads in my past where I could have gone another direction, working seasonal jobs in order to make ends meet between adventures.  More than once, I almost went down that road, but today I fit my adventures in around other obligations.  I accepted the trade-off: stability for freedom, as it were.  Similarly, I would have been sacrificing stability, family, and possibly relationships if I had gone down the other road.

Trade-offs.  Life is full of them.  In most cases, they’re unavoidable, however what’s important (and this is where my conversations from this week come in), is to live a life with no regrets.

This week I also came across this video that’s been circulating online.   Renan Ozturk is an accomplished climber, artist, and photographer, and was a 2012 nominee for the National Geographic Society’s Adventurer of the Year.  The video below is his 2013 Director’s Reel, produced with the Camp 4 Collective.  Quite frankly, on the surface, it’s badass.  But, looking deeply, it’s a good reminder to live life to the fullest.

.

How does this relate to photography?  In photography, as in life, it’s all about the personal journey.  Treating every image as if it counts, because it does.  Putting only your best work forward.  Thinking very hard before saying “no,” when an unforgettable opportunity comes up.  Creating personal, meaningful images.

As I watch the video above, I wistfully wonder about what I would have found had I taken another path in life, and I know that other crossroads lay before me yet.  In life, in photography, I want to always say that I have had a life well-lived.

Pacific Ocean, early morning

January Trips

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Straight as an arrow, or very nearly so, the road crests the mountain range, beginning its descent into the valley.  After what feels like only a few minutes, it will start up the next rise, repeating this pattern again and again.

Basin and range.  Ascent and descent.  This topography–narrow, steep mountain ranges separated by deep valleys–very nearly defines the West.  John Muir’s Sierra Nevada is the westernmost “range;” the province then extends eastward, one towering mountain range after another, and would reach all the way to eastern Colorado if the Colorado Plateau didn’t get in its way.

Four years ago, my Dad and I began the somewhat informal tradition of making a January photography trip somewhere together.  I think it started mostly as an excuse to be outside and hike around together, hopefully making a few images along the way.  Last week, I found myself in his truck with him cresting the Amargosa Range thus beginning the descent into Death Valley.

Death Valley National Park typifies the Basin and Range Province; the Inyo, Panamint, and Amargosa mountain ranges rise like the vertebral columns of colossal ancient dinosaurs, and the valleys between them (Death Valley included) cut through the earth separating them.  The changes in elevation are dramatic and impressive, even to someone not well-versed in geology.  As the park brochure will tell you, it is indeed a land of extremes.

Colorful backlit badlands

We spent the next few days hiking around some places I had been to before, and some I had not.  As one must sometimes do in a national park the size of Connecticut, we also drove a lot.  The arrival of a winter storm gave a unique patina to the desert: landscapes we normally associate with hot lifelessness were transformed–beautifully–by clouds and fog.

I don’t normally get to photograph über-dramatic light, and honestly I am okay with that.  My eye naturally tends to find compositions in subtle light and delicate form, which is exactly what this storm gave us.  This year I celebrated my birthday on our trip, and the light was a perfect birthday gift.  So, not only was it a time to enjoy being outside, it was also a time of celebration.

Early morning light on the Panamint Mountains

The last four Januarys with my Dad have given me milestones by which to watch him get older as well.  He is not in failing health, but with each passing year I see him–both of my parents–getting older.  My rational brain is accepting of that, but the little boy in me isn’t quite ready for the aging process to begin–in them, or in myself.  Over the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking a lot about aging, mortality, our ability to experience a place, and the creative process; I think a common thread runs between all of these things.

As photographers, and particularly as landscape photographers, our ability to create art is rooted in how we perceive the world: our ability to see light and distinguish shapes, and to integrate that sensory experience with the smells and sounds around us is the cornerstone of our craft.  The most evocative landscape photography I have seen is that which is sensed, not only with my eyes, but inside of the nucleus of every cell in my body.

Our senses are rooted in our biology, which changes as we age.  If our senses are changing, it is no surprise that our artistic vision would change as well.  Ideally, it would mature along with everything else!  I wrote in my last blog post about my own journey back in time, exploring my favorite images from the last half decade.  My artistic vision has changed, certainly.  Matured, perhaps.  Practice, study, and introspection have no doubt played a part in this, but perception–the way my senses tell me about the world–is a huge part of that.

Do we perceive the world with more clarity as we age?  Do my aging parents somehow see things more clearly than I do?  In some ways, I’d like to think they do.  It is somewhat macabre, but looking all the way to the end may help answer that.  Turning to my “other” field of comparative physiology for a moment, the great Canadian physiologist Peter Hochachka wrote only days before his own death in 2002, “I have noticed how the mind seems to clear when one’s time is up and current life is near an end…instead of anger, bitterness or even sadness, there can be interest and increased clarity.”

Winter Storm in the Panamint Mountains

Basin and range.  On my birthday this year, this landscape gave me not only light, but hope as well.  Hope that in 30 years, I will see this landscape differently, and with more clarity, as perhaps my Dad did standing next to me on this trip.  Hope that I will still be creating images then, images that are personal, unique, intimate.

Storm light on the Racetrack Playa

Crossroads of Creativity

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I have never been all that great at new year’s resolutions.  The will power and self discipline to cut cookies from my diet or to learn the guitar just aren’t there.  I’ll admit the latter has more to do with my complete lack of rhythm than will power, but you get the idea.  While I am not much good at resolving, I do like the new year because it is a good time to look ahead.

Over the last week, one question I’ve been asking myself is, “Where do I want my landscape photography to be 12 months from now?”  In many ways I feel as though I’m standing at a crossroads of creativity.  To define this crossroads a bit better, I should provide some context.  A few months ago, I came across photographer Mark Hespenheide’s artist’s statement; I encourage you to read the entire thing as it really is quite inspiring, but one passage has returned to the forefront of my brain over and over again.


Mediocre landscape photography can only reinforce the ideas about nature that we already hold. Good landscape photography can introduce us to new ways of seeing the world. Truly great landscape photography can change the way we perceive our place in the world and the way we interact with the world.


After reading this, it is easy to imagine three diverging paths at a crossroads and to understand the fact that each path requires increasing levels of introspection and challenge.  Of course any photographer would say that they choose to make truly great images, but what does that really take?   The answer lies somewhere different for everyone I think, however the same basic principles should apply to any landscape photographer.

Fresh snowfall in southern California's San Jacinto Mountains

Your artist’s statement is an incredibly powerful document.  If you are honest with yourself as you write it, it will be about you, the artist.  It will not describe your accomplishments, but rather your motivation and inspiration behind making images to begin with.  Your artist’s statement is not static–it needs to change over time as you do.  As I look back to my favorite images of 20092010, 2011, and 2012, I can see a definite shift in my vision; why should my artist’s statement not reflect that vision?  Even if you don’t make it public, write your artist’s statement and put it away somewhere.  In a few months, revisit it and be brutally honest with yourself as to whether your actions (and images) have matched your words.

One of the very first things I have done when I visit a new place is to study it on a map.  I want to know the place as if it is an old friend.  I want to know the names of the valleys, canyons, and mountains, and once I have learned that, I want to know why they earned these names.  Just as understanding why you make photographs, the establishment of an intimate relationship with the land will make images more meaningful.  As a photographer you should read–prolifically–about the places that you love to establish a sense of place.  When you visit these places, it should feel like you have arrived home.

This all culminates in a creative process in which you get to know yourself and your subject intimately, and it goes beyond the postcard or calendar images that landscape photography is often regarded as being.  When you express your subject photographically, Ansel Adams wrote, “it is a vivid experience, sudden, compelling, and inevitable.”  It is, “a summation of total experience and instinct.”

Photographically, I operate on fairly simple principles.  I believe there is beauty in life as in death, there is compelling order in chaos, and although we must look deeply, the intricacies and intimate details of the landscape are very often the best part; these are the characteristics of the landscape I want to express.

As we move into 2013, which path do you plan on taking, and what do you plan to do in order to get there?

Aspens and Snow

Climbing Mountains

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I recently did a solo backpack into southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains.  My primary goal was to climb San Gorgonio Mountain (11,503′), the tallest point in southern California; my secondary goal was to escape the searing heat in the valleys below.  On August 11, I’ll have lived in southern California for ten years (as a somewhat macabre coincidence, August 11 is also the ten-year anniversary of Galen & Barbara Rowell’s death), and I decided it was finally time to climb this formidable mountain.

Over the past decade or so, I have not really climbed mountains for the sake of climbing mountains.  In college, I used to drive down to Colorado and climb 14,000′ peaks a few times a year, but I seem to have gotten away from that.  I suppose the time period  that I stopped doing long hikes was also the time I got into photography.  In some ways, the two don’t really dovetail well–long hikes require early starts and the pace can be, “go go go” for hours on end; when you’re in the mountains, a 16-hour day isn’t uncommon.   Photography, on the other hand, calls for quiet contemplation.  It can be a tough balance.

San Gorgonio Mountain at sunrise

San Gorgonio Mountain, 11,503′, January 2011

This disconnect has bothered me, and like so many other insignificant problems, I’ve let it stay on my mind longer than it really should.  I’ve largely solved the problem by carrying with me a small point-and-shoot camera that can capture images in RAW format, still giving me the ability to edit them, but also giving me the flexibility to pursue more difficult and athletic outdoor pursuits.  There is, of course, the tradeoff of image quality when you use a point-and-shoot over a DSLR, but it is one I was willing to make.

When I was in college, I read Robert Pirsig’s, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I’m not sure I completely understood it, and even if I reread it today, I’m not sure I would.  It’s pretty far out there, and it’s deep.  However, the theme of the book–quality–has been on my mind since.  Every time I go into an outdoor store, I drool over all the sexy new gear, and sometimes I succumb to advertising, but I pride myself on my really old equipment.  For instance, I’ve been using the same backpack for over 20 years now, and it’s still going strong, after 1,000s of miles.  I used my nifty point-and-shoot camera to for some self-portraits to highlight the pack in action on my recent trip to San Gorgonio Mountain.  Despite my allegiance to my gear, the specter of consumerism hovers near me most of the time.

A backpacker in the San Gorgonio Wilderness of southern California

20 years old and still going strong, self-portrait, August 2012

(click on the diptych to see it full size)


“All that matters is that you spare yourself nothing, wear yourself out, risk everything to find something that seems true.”   –Tony Kushner


To summit San Gorgonio Mountain, I got up at 3:30am, and was on the trail by 3:45.  From my campsite, I was able to summit at 5:30am, just before the sun came up.  I used the self-timer on my camera for a few self portraits, and then headed back down to my campsite for a cup of tea before packing up and heading back to my car.  The morning was cool, and I forgot how long the Earth’s shadow and Belt of Venus seem to hang in the sky at this elevation.  Even though I could see the megalopolis of southern California stretching below me, I had this mountain completely to myself.

Predawn light on San Gorgonio Mountain

Predawn light, San Gorgonio Mountain, August 2012

On my hike down I thought about the physical act of climbing mountains as well as the mountains we climb within ourselves.  ”Like those in the valley behind us,” wrote Robert Pirsig, “most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.”   I thought about my point-and shoot camera, my 20-year-old backpack, people in my life, and the mountains we all find ourselves challenged by every day.

I am happy that I finally ventured into the San Bernardinos to climb San Gorgonio Mountain.

Mt. San Jacinto at dawn

Mt. San Jacinto as seen from San Gorgonio Mountain, August 2012

 

Sunrise on the flanks of San Gorgonio Mountain

Krummholz, Jepson Peak, and the Earth’s Shadow, August 2012

Seeing Beauty

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The comments on my last post brought up something I hadn’t originally thought of in the context of photographing archaeological sites: the joy of discovery.  In photography, and life in general, we live in a world of guidebooks, whether it be a guidebook to the greatest photo location, or a step-by-step instruction guide to being able to make agave nectar-glazed salmon just like that guy on TV.  The idea of “winging it” seems to be out of style.  Many thanks to Jackson and Guy for getting me thinking about the joy of discovery a bit more.

I recently looked through my personal favorite images from the last few years.  What I found was that most of my favorites–the ones that have stood the test of time (in my eyes, at least)–are the ones scenes I did not expect to find.  I think sometimes photographers put too much pressure on themselves to get “the shot” of “that icon” that they fail to see beauty as they walk past it.  Thus, going for a walk with no expectations can lead to very inspired and personal photography.

Unique abstract patterns in sandstone

Convergence, June 2012

 


“In the depths of our darkness there is no one place for Beauty. The whole place is for Beauty.”

–René Char, Leaves of Hypnos, 1946


One of my greatest sins as a photographer is saying, “I don’t want to shoot there, there are prettier places.”  Beauty is indeed all around us.  As a photographer’s personal style develops, an “eye for beauty” should develop along with the requisite technical skills.  I think this eye for composition and learning to simplify and single out the important aspects of a scene is one of the greatest if not most difficult skills to master.

In seeking this beauty out, the ability to discover and recognize it in the most unexpected of places is perhaps the best gift there is.

Out of chaos comes elegance and grace.

Manzanita, genus Arctostaphylos

Manzanita Abstract, June 2012

(Digital) Darkroom Confessions, part II

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

In my last blog post, I talked about my opinion regarding “rules” in photography.  In short, I believe it is okay to manipulate exposure or crop (for example) in order to take an image from visualization to the final product.  In this post, I would like to revisit the image I introduced last time and dissect it a bit.

Navajo Sandstone Cliffs

Sandstone & Clouds, March 2012

In the field

I am not normally a “grand landscape” sort of photographer; I tend to focus more on intimate scenes.  However, when I saw these cliffs, what initially struck me was the fact that the buttresses were receding away from me.  Although the mid-morning light had eliminated some of the shadows, I liked that each buttress was casting a bit of a shadow on the buttress behind it.  This alternation of light and dark creates a wonderful sense of depth in images, and was a compositional element I wanted to take advantage of here.

Another confession: guys like me do not normally score skies like this.  Cloudless blue skies are the story of my life.  However, on this particular day, I was loving these high clouds; they were constantly changing and they added a great geometric element to the scene.

For me, the decision of how to balance the composition was pretty easy, and despite the fact I like to think of myself as a rebel, I roughly divided the composition into thirds. I wanted the sky to be the star of the show, so I gave it 2/3 of the frame, and I let the cliffs occupy the remainder.  I like sagebrush, and wanted to leave some foreground in as well; this also gives a good visual “root” for the cliffs to sit on.

To expose the frame, I had a couple of choices.  To underexpose would have meant preserving the shadows that attracted me to the scene.  But, it would also introduce shadows to the foreground, which I did not really want to do.  The alternative I had was to overexpose to the point where the shadows were not as dark while maintaining detail in the rest of the frame.  You have probably heard the phrase, “expose to the right;” that is what I chose to do here.  Phil Colla has a concise and clear explanation of the technique here.

You can always darken a scene in post-processing, but to lighten it up risks introducing noise.

To get the exposure I wanted for the lower part of the image, I had trouble preserving detail in the bright white clouds, so I made two exposures, 1 stop apart from each other.

At home

I opened the RAW files together, and in Adobe Camera RAW I adjusted the images based on the vision I had in the field.  After opening the images in Photoshop, I continued this process.  First I blended the images using a technique I learned several years ago from Younes Bounhar.  You can read about it here.   After checking carefully to make sure the images had aligned properly and there were no artifacts, I made my initial adjustments largely using Nik’s software plug-ins.  The two I used here were the ‘Tonal Contrast’ filter (in Color Efex Pro), and then I used Silver Efex Pro to get the black and white conversion I wanted.

I do not have a lot to offer in terms of strategic choice on this (I did what looked best to my eye), but I only made subtle adjustments and I made careful choices based on my vision.  In choosing the black and white filter, I made sure to keep  the detail in the clouds, but also to make them stand out.  I also kept an eye on the tonal contrast between the sagebrush and the beginning of the cliffs.

I applied a global curves layer, and then used separate levels to mask the cliffs, and selectively darken the shadows.  I saved the TIFF file (with all of the layers), and then flattened, sharpened, and saved a JPEG for the web.

The beauty of image processing is that there is definitely more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.  When you start with a creative vision, you learn ways to arrive at the final product in post-processing.  As you gain experience, you build skills that will eventually become a tool kit that you can selectively choose from when you process more challenging images.

(Digital) Darkroom Confessions, part I

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

When I look in the mirror, I see a man with secrets.

You see, I have broken the rules.


Not only do I consider Alister Benn a good friend, I also consider him a mentor; if I have learned anything from Alister, it is to take control of the image-making process, from visualization to capture to processing in the digital darkroom.  The more I work to embrace this philosophy, the more I realize it involves breaking the rules.  But it also requires a strong understanding of my own vision, as well as the technical capabilities of my equipment.

I have heard the argument several times that photographers should “get the composition right in the camera,” or “get the exposure right in one frame.”   To some extent, I completely agree with the opinion that one should not make a frame with the intent of cropping out an annoying foreground element, or bracket haphazardly, without much thought–these behaviors are often regarded as laziness or a display of lack of knowledge.  As an analogy, this is similar to a student choosing every possible answer on an exam because, “one of them has to be correct.”

However, the other side of the coin dictates that a strict adherence to these “rules” (and others) severely limits the artist’s creative process.  For instance, the image I visualize in the field may not fit perfectly into a 3:4 or 4:5 aspect ratio, and exposing multiple frames for stitching later may not always be practical.  Similarly, if one understands the technical limitations of their camera in exposing for a scene with a high dynamic range, it should be perfectly acceptable to bracket exposures.

In other words, when breaking the rules is in line with vision and an understanding of what the scene demands, it should be encouraged.  Be rebellious.


So, how does an image evolve?  When I was recently in Zion National Park, I was driving along the road and saw a scene that jumped out at me.  Sometimes scenes really present themselves to you.

Navajo Sandstone cliffs

Navajo Sandstone & Clouds, March 2012

It was mid-morning, and I loved the way the clouds contrasted against the cliffs, and the way the buttresses in the rock created layers.  I wanted to emphasize this in the final image, but was presented with a few choices as to how to do it.

In my next post, I will go through my thoughts in the field and a few of the processing steps that led me to the final product.

Silence

Monday, April 16th, 2012

I recently returned from my first trip to the Colorado Plateau this year.  After an extremely busy few months, I welcomed the chance to slow down and relax, as well as to revel in the warmth of the spring sun on the red rock.  I went alone.

While I wanted to explore a few areas that I had not been to before, I also wanted to take some time for introspection; growing up as an only child, I have grown to value silence.  After setting up my tent, I took a walk through a piñon-juniper forest that burned several years ago.  As the red ochre-colored hills receded toward the distant cliffs, the lifeless skeletons of these trees stood before me, each one seeming to take on a different, animated, pose.  I sat for a while, admiring the stark and barren, but pleasant scene.  In the West especially, fire is part of our ecology.

A burned pinion-juniper forest in the Kolob Terrace area of Zion National Park, Utah

The burn, March 2012

I often notice that when walking alone, I find myself whispering.  Why not talk to myself at a normal volume, or like some people, take the opportunity to scream out, knowing my confessions will be my own only?  I have never been a screamer, in fact when I have something important to say, you will find me saying it quietly to myself.  I am not sure whether this is a good trait or not, but part of me hates to muddy the already sweet sound of the wild.  On this particular trip, western bluebirds had already moved into the area (a sure sign of spring) and their song is surely better than anything I could say.

Silence.  When I whisper no one answers back.  At the same time, it can be comforting and empty, exciting and lonely.


“I fear silence because it leads me to myself, a self I may not wish to confront. It asks that I listen. And in listening, I am taken to an unknown place. Silence leaves me alone in a place of feeling. It is not necessarily a place of comfort.”

–Terry Tempest Williams


After dinner and a night’s sleep under a blanket of stars, I explore more canyons.  Part of the fun of a trip like this is not having any expectations, taking the time to poke your head into slot canyons, pretending you might find something no one else has ever seen before.  The lack of both a defined plan and a guidebook are two of the best ways to drive creativity in photography, to let your voice be heard.  In silence, I revel at the sky, the clouds moving over the top of me, dappled light falling on sandstone monoliths.

Shadow play.

A sandstone cliff in the Kolob Terrace area of Zion National Park, Utah

Monolithic, March 2012

I spend the afternoon–the next few afternoons–wandering up small canyons alone, admiring the potholes which are full of water from recent rains, watching tadpoles begin to make their transition from aquatic to terrestrial, and confronting the silence head-on.  There is a lot to see in this small corner of southern Utah–I know I will be be back, soon hopefully, for there is a lot left unseen, both in the landscape and in myself.

One of the things that amazes me about silence is that it so boldly opens our souls; this is at odds with the way we close ourselves off in the hustle of our everyday lives.  I am not sure how to reconcile this.  However, I know until I can return to the Colorado Plateau my daydreams will drift to clouds floating in a sky above red sandstone cliffs, of the cool air inside a tight slot canyon, and the way the morning smells when I am waist-deep in sagebrush.