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Portraits of a landscape

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

I've been to the southwest a number of times. What draws me there is the incredible color palette that the desert landscape has to offer. But during my last trip to Arizona, I decided to take a closer look at what makes a desert landscape so spectacular.

My approach to landscape photography is to treat a landscape for what it is. A living breathing thing. Not and inanimate object. I took this a step further, and focused on the individual elements that breath life into a landscape.

I covered a lot of ground in my rented Rav4. My trip started in Phoenix, and from there, included stops in Sedona, Jerome, Williams, and Seligman. The streets of Williams offered the most well preserved part of route 66 in the country. Williams is also know as the gateway to the Grand Canyon as it offers direct train service to the south rim. Seligman also has a fairly well preserved section of route 66 to explore. Jerome is an old mining town built on the edge of a cliff. You'll find plenty of shops and ghost stories from the locals. It's also home to the Puscifer store and Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room, both owned by TOOL frontman Maynard James Keenan. My trip included a stop at Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon for some of the best Lemon meringue pie I've ever had. But it was in Phoenix and Sedona, where I was able to take a closer look at nature.

I traveled light with a Panasonic GX9 as my main camera and GX85 as a backup. The lighter load was much needed as I was often traveling by foot during my trip.

My first instinct was to embrace color, as I've always done while in the southwest. But I found by removing color, I could focus on the anatomy of the desert. The cacti, flowers, and butterflies. The things that make up a landscape but get overlooked in the wide angle and panorama shots that we often see.

I hiked the areas around, Bell Rock and Cathedral rock in Sedona. They offered an endless supply of lines shapes and textures to work with.

Going to the desert has always been a relaxing experience for me and stopping to focus on the small details helped center me even further. I consider each subject portraits of the things that make a landscape come alive.

Make next trip west will take me to Utah where I will certainly photograph some wide angle shots and panoramas, but my experience in Arizona will stay with me and continue to influence what I do.

abstract photography
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