I ran into one of my fans at a Walgreens one day. She insisted that she was going to buy a large photo of mine one day when she became president of a large organization here in Arizona. She qualified that with, "However, my favorite place in Arizona is Monument Valley." Of course, I took that as a hint. I had never actually been to Monument Valley. However, I had always wanted to go. Now I had a good reason to.
One thing you will notice looking through my portfolio is that I have no pictures of the Grand Canyon, even though it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You wouldn't be remiss in wondering why. Actually, I still don't have any stellar photos of the Grand Canyon. I only put my most stellar photos on my website. So, by no means did I think I was going to make my first appearance at Monument Valley, and have a portfolio worthy photo.
The trip from Phoenix that fall break weekend (I am an elementary school teacher) started with a day of driving through the rain through Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff. I tried to fall asleep early, but I was anxious and excited about my trip early the next morning. I set my alarm for 1:00 a.m. because I had a long drive from Flagstaff to the northernmost part of the state on the Navajo Indian Reservation. As I drove beyond Tuba City, I hit a massive bank of fog that stretched for over 100 miles. As I drove, I became more and more anxious - while fog may be pretty for some shots, it is typically a sunrise photo killer. I needed the fog to lift.
I arrived an hour early (no way was I going to be late!) into the fog enshrouded parking lot next to the The View Hotel where I was to meet my photography guide. A small part of me wished I could have afforded the room rate as I tried to sneak in a few minutes of shut eye. I think I managed a quick 15 minute nap and awakened to a still heavy fog flowing through the parking lot lights. I drove down to where I was to meet my guide when I saw a truck approach the spot. He was with the same company, but I would have a different guide.
I met another photography couple and hinted at what I was hoping for as far as framing a sunrise shot. I'd like something in the foreground that could accent the rising sun. I often having something in my foreground, whether it be a saguaro, a cholla, or a lake. But before that, since the sun was not yet up, we had plans to experiment with some night photography from a large cave.
As we started off, it was still foggy, but as we descended into Monument Valley, we found ourselves under the fog. This was the moment I realized we might be in for something special. Most of you know I love taking photos with clouds. Well, this outing was becoming one with clouds instead of fog - and that was indeed a good thing.
When I am out taking photos, I like to remind myself to be in the moment. After all, being out in nature should be about more than just getting the best photo - that would completely defeat the purpose. As I began my photography journey, I had resolved to take in the nature that surrounds me as I hold my camera. You miss so much when you always have your eye in the view finder. You catch so much more when you give yourself an opportunity to take in the splendor of nature around you. That may be one of the reasons why I am so successful with photography. It isn't always about getting the most obvious object of the destination. It is about feeling in the moment with nature. So often, I get to see it in a different way than others do. Many of you have seen the most iconic scenes of Monument Valley in photo after photo. But it isn't until you allow your eyes to wander, when you give your camera a rest for a moment, that you see things that others may not be seeing.
Obviously, the photographers in my group paid specifically to get sunrise pictures - otherwise, we would not be there before sunrise. But the photos I was getting were not capturing my fancy. I broke away from the group carrying my tripod-ded (made-up word) camera. I just spent a few moments breathing in the fresh air. I turned in my spot noticing how the low clouds enveloped the upper reaches of most of the buttes. Far off in the distance, I could see a lone butte soaking in the morning rays of the sun surrounded by low clouds. I quickly swapped out my 10-20 wide angle lens for my 150-600 mm telephoto lens. As I quickly decided on composition, the rays on the butte brightened. I quickly snapped off a few dozen photos at a variety of focal lengths and depths. And within a couple of minutes, the butte was once again shrouded in the shade of the clouds around it.
It was a couple of days later when I downloaded the photos to my computer and looked at them on a wide-screen that I had an inkling that I had captured something special. I wasn't the only one who thought so - Arizona Highways Magazine gave it 2nd place in its 2022 annual photography contest.
And, now I share it with you in the limited .edition. Only 25 of these will be signed and numbered in sizes ranging from 36x24 up to 75x50. This is my very first limited edition photo - something that I will only do for the finest of my photos. Shipping is free. This is a ground floor opportunity. Get your hands on one of Arizona's most iconic locations through the photography of one it's finest photographers.