The American Southwest is a place that I can only describe as a Treasure Chest of awe-inspiring natural beauty. Some of that magic is easy to find, but in my experience much of it is hidden in the wilderness. Not many years ago these places were mostly unknown. This was due to a lack of paved roads as well as there being much less mainstream interest in backpacking, nature hikes, outdoor sports, and photography.
Today we can buy books and get GPS coordinates for the hidden treasures, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to get to. Some are, but many are not. There is a series of books called Photographing the Southwest, by Laurent Martres that can really help. Tom Till also did some amazing work exploring through Utah and Arizona, and contributed to these books.
I have visited the Red Rock area of Sedona, AZ a few times, and mostly photographed in the area of the buttes, which you can’t miss as they are all around the city. There is plenty of hiking, driving, and fun exploring to do. However, previous to my last trip I learned about an area between Sedona and Flagstaff called the West Fork. It’s not far from downtown Sedona heading north on 89A going through Oak Creek Canyon. To see all of the West Fork requires a hike of approximately 6.5 miles roundtrip. If you’re carrying some heavy photography gear and tripod, that’s a workout. I recommend a must scaled back load if you’re not a real hiker. I’m not.
On this occasion I had pre-visualized the following image, and was super excited to actually find the kind of scene and light that I had imagined. Red Rock and Pines is not common anywhere that I’ve ever seen. Often this takes years to find the composition that I have in my mind, and this took three trips to Sedona. To get this golden glow the light must be at just the right angle and time of day. With cliffs on the opposite side as well, the window of opportunity doesn’t last long.
This was just one gift that the Southwest has given me, and there is so much more. Just need to get out there and be patient.
Taken with the Cambo technical camera, and Phase One IQ260 Digital Sensor, 60 megapixels.
This image can be purchased from my portfolio page here.