Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona is one of the classic destinations in the American southwest. Rich in Native American culture and dramatic geology, it rivals the other more well-known parks in the region, yet it sees much fewer visitors. Although it is managed by the National Park Service, this unique monument is located within the Navajo Indian Reservation, and many local families still live and farm within the canyon walls as their ancestors have done for nearly 5,000 years.
The Park encompasses two major canyons, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced ‘de-shay’), and Canyon del Muerto, both of which include many outstanding Anasazi cliff dwellings perched precariously along the canyon walls. And while there are many excellent viewpoints along the rim drive, nothing compares to a hike down into Canyon de Chelly to visit White House Ruin. This dramatic ruin is an icon of the Colorado Plateau, and the only part of the inner canyon accessible without a Navajo guide. It is a wonderful photographic study in light and shadow as the afternoon light bathes the desert varnish of the imposing sandstone walls above.
Arizona is known as the Grand Canyon state and while that natural wonder is in a class by itself, the smaller scale and equally dramatic vistas make this special park well worth the detour when exploring the Four Corners area.
Compelling landscape photography is often comprised of one or more elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Magical light, richly saturated colors, and dramatic vistas can all make for great images, but sometimes we’re not rewarded with these sure-fire conditions even after the long hike or waiting out the inclement weather.
Fortunately there are other ways to create visually dynamic imagery when mother nature is not cooperating – namely your lens and your eyes. Perspective is a powerful tool that is limited only by your choice of lens and framing.
A wide-angle lens with both excellent depth of field and a wide field of view can be used to emphasize a foreground element such as a plant or rock within the context of its larger mountain or desert environment. In most cases this also creates an imaginary line directing the viewer’s eye across the frame, which in turn adds drama to the composition.
So the next time the elements aren’t working in your favor try adding a little visual spice to the composition. A subtle change in perspective can often create leading lines that add drama to a scene, and will entice your viewer to linger within the frame.
It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close, but looking back on 2019 I’m filled with gratitude and amazement for the visual opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to witness.
Over a decade ago Jim Goldstein began this popular project, which has evolved over the years to include numerous friends and colleagues whose work continues to be a source of inspiration.
Here I’ve selected a few of my favorite images released in the past year. These are not necessarily my best or most popular, but each represents a special moment in time in which the beauty of this amazing world (both natural and man-made) passed before my lens.
Please share and enjoy! And feel free to let me know your thoughts. You can click on any image for a large high quality view, to learn more about it or share individually. I look forward to your selects in the weeks ahead, and wish everyone a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!