Cliffs, Morning Light. Zion National Park, Utah. October 22, 2012. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Immense cliffs in the Pine Creek Canyon area of Zion National Park.
This was an interesting morning, as much for its place in the sequence of events on this trip to photograph in Utah as for the actual photographic opportunities. I have noticed, and other photographers I’ve spoken with about this seem to agree to at least some extent, that there is sometimes a sort of “getting up to speed” element to certain types of shooting when you are getting started. I recall mentioning this to one photographer friend in the context of a discussion about the idea that you should always have a clear vision for your photograph before you make it – a theoretical concept that most photographers I know acknowledge to be unrealistic and perhaps even a bad idea. (This is not to say that thinking about what your “capture” may look like as a photograph is unimportant, but rather an acknowledgement that things are often more complex than the simplistic notion suggests and that sometimes we, quite honestly, don’t really know for sure which images will work or why.) When the idea of waiting for a really good image before making a photograph came up, I shared the observation that I sometimes have to “prime the pump” but simply starting to make some photographs, even if I’m not convinced that the first ones will be great. (One friend then referred to this as “photographic foreplay.” ;-)
The previous day we had driven to St. George, Utah from the San Francisco Bay Area – a LONG drive – and finally stumbled into a motel in St. George close to midnight. (As I recall, the motel advertised something like “The Cheapest Rooms in St. George!”) Up in the morning for precisely the free breakfast that you might expect in such a place – I resisted and instead walked across the street to a Starbucks – we left early and headed into Zion. As I recall we did not spend much, if any, time in Zion Canyon, and we were soon heading up the Mount Carmel highway, still having made no photographs. Finally, as we turned a few switchbacks on the initial climb, we saw some interesting light on the cliffs across the canyon, pulled over, got our cameras and lenses and tripods and made some photographs. I’m not sure that any of them were exactly remarkable, but with this first “shoot” (priming the pump) our work was now underway.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist 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.