Autumn Oak Leaves, Streambed Rock. Zion National Park, Utah. October 22, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Autumn oak leaves on stratified streambed rocks, Zion National Park
This is one of those photographs that is not what I was looking for when I made it. We had dropped into a narrow near-slot canyon in the Zion high country, and my thoughts were on photographing the sandy bed of the little canyon along with the steep and sculpted rock and the light reflecting onto them from the narrow strip of skylight above, or perhaps looking for branches against red sandstone. So as I walked up this little canyon and sort of but not quite saw those things I was becoming just a little bit frustrated photographically – the light was colored the way I had hoped, there were footprints in the sand from those who had hiked here before me, and the colorful branches of fall leaves were few and far between and often in places where I could not see a photograph. (Though, as always, I enjoyed the sensations of walking through such a place.)
As often happens, what I really needed to do was let go of my preconceptions about what I thought should be there and instead look around to see what really was there. As soon as I did this I began to look away from the larger-scale elements of the place and see some of the smaller things and how they might make photographs – a few leaves sitting on rock, some remaining ripples in the sand, and so forth. This bit of rock was sitting a foot or two higher than the stream bed and off to one side under some overhanging plants. Unlike most of the rock there, it was strongly stratified and it had a bit of a yellow cast in places. And a few of the yellowish/tan oak leaves were sitting on its surface.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.