Autumn Leaves, Sand. Zion National Park, Utah. October 22, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Autumn oak and box elder leaves lie on the pink sand in the bottom of a wash, Zion National Park
The thing that most often first catches my attention in the bottom of slot canyons, such as this small one in the Zion National Park high country, is the way that they twist between closely spaced vertical walls. There is virtually nothing quite like this in our experience. But the thing I notice first is not necessarily the thing I remember most. I often wonder how others might regard my photographs, since I know that they cannot share the full context of the images that I know from being in these places. (I’ve often said that we, as the photographers, are perhaps the least able to see our own work objectively, since we cannot easily put aside these non-photographic things that are no longer present in the purely visual medium within which we work.) When I think of these canyons I think of the sound, often deadened by the sand and perhaps by vegetation, and of the feeling of the air, which always different from the feeling of the air outside the canyon – most often cooler when the “outside” air is warm but also warmer when the canyon provides shelter from cool-season winds. And it those canyons with water flowing through them, there is the constant, though often gentle sound of water flowing and trickling.
I also usually end up slowing down and looking at many small things that might not first be seen – the leftover pattern of water than may have flowed through weeks or months earlier, place where the sand has been marked by the passage of a small animal or by grass moving across its surface in the breeze, the mixture of rocks that must have come from distant places, plants growing in odd cracks in the rock, patterns in the rock walls, the passage from one rock layer to another, and more. On this fall day it had been windy and lots of autumn “stuff” was littering the canyon floor, which here was pink sandstone sand, further colored by the glowing light reflected from the red rock canyon walls.
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.