Monday, October 27, 2014

Published 9:16 AM by with 4 comments

Under Desert Skies

Living on the road has been an amazing adventure of discovery. America is such a monumental place, it would be impossible to see it all in a single lifetime. As we cross each state border, it feels like we are entering a new world. Hell, it sometimes feels like we are on a different planet.

Arizona, for me anyway, is one of those states that is so different from what I am used to, it feels exotic. The people and culture are not noticeably different but the landscape is made of the stuff I had only so far seen in books and magazines.

My first indicator that we weren't in Kansas anymore (so to speak) was the prevalence of cacti (as an aside, the world "cacti" doesn't sound like a real word to me. I think it should be "cactuses". But I digress). They were everywhere. Linda said I had seen them before when we were in New Mexico many years ago but my eyes were not as photographically trained back then and so many things of interest got away from me.

The other thing that caught my eye was the rock formations. There seemed to be an abundance of red in every direction and the carved shapes of these structures were unlike anything I had seen in Washington, Oregon or California.

The final differentiating factor was the quality of light. It seemed to affect everything I looked at. Sunrises and sunsets were more vibrant and shadows seemed more intense. Was it my imagination? Maybe, but it was real to me and my photographs seemed to corroborate my experience.

We stopped briefly at a campsite/gas station in Gila Bend and, although we were there for just one night, I made the best of it roaming around the dusty desert landscape in search of cactuses, er, I mean cacti.

The many shapes and personalities of each cactus fascinated me. I like the almost human form of this particular one.

The moon, the distant mountains and the formation of this group made this an interesting composition. I felt like the dude on the left balanced the picture.

The next day, we traveled to Usery Mountain RV Park near Phoenix where I had lots more opportunities to become acquainted with the abundant saguaros, a fascinating species of cacti that can live for up to 150 years. They were particularly plump when we arrived because of the recent rain.

One of many beautiful sunsets. The clouds in the sky caused spotlights on select objects in the landscape. At this moment the top of the mountain and the cactus lit up. A few seconds later, the sun had disappeared.

I loved the rock formations in and around Usery Mountain RV Park. We had way more cloud action than I expected during our stay.

Superstition Mountain near Usery Mountain RV Park had the most drama, almost on a daily basis. When I saw these clouds, I jumped in my car and sped to the scene. Luckily, on this day, there was almost no traffic allowing me to stand in the middle of the road for this shot.

We had arranged to be neighbors with fellow RV fulltimers, Fred and Jo. I flexed my portrait-snapping muscles on them during our stay. When I first got on the road, I was worried about essentially giving up shooting portraits in favor of landscapes so it was nice to get back to it again, albeit briefly.

We also managed a trip to Sedona, a city in the northern Verde Valley region of Arizona. Unique to this area is an array of sandstone formations that glow red during the setting and rising sun. Although their color is the big attraction, it was the textures that drew me to the landscape and I felt like I could best interpret it through black and white.

Bell Rock in Sedona. We had every intention of reaching the top but it was the end of the day so our tired feet dictated our actual ascent (about halfway up).

This was the actual view we had from that point on Bell Rock. Not too shabby. I prayed for some clouds but none came.

Part of the appeal of Sedona for many is the presence of vortexes (yes, that's spelled correctly) that evoke a sense of inner peace. This particular area is known for that energy.

Arizona is vast and sprawling and I honestly feel like I could easily spend a year there and produce thousands of unique photographs. It was thrilling to live in the desert for a little while and I hope to do it again in the not to distant future. 

In my next entry, I'll share my experience of seeing something that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember: Grand Canyon. Stay tuned.


dreamjosie said...

Love the blog. The addition of your sense of humor just enhances the already spectacular photography. I especially loved the vortex photo. It is really special. You sure tapped that vortex energy.

How sweet of you to post our portrait photos, although seeing my face large, up close and personal was a bit of a surprise. Fred's however, is just the greatest.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the desert so much. You echoed my feelings about it and how I've come to love it as home.

Fred Wishnie said...

Absolutely awesome photography, except for the old mans picture. :-)

Steven Dempsey said...

Awww, thanks a lot guys. You two are my biggest fans and I appreciate it very much :)

Bill said...

Steven and the Grand Canyon. Sounds wonderful.