Sunday, November 30, 2008

I was home

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No, not back at my house, but my home.

It was Glen Phillips, the lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, who’d once said, “You can take me down, you can show me your home. Not the place where you live, but the place where you belong.”


That’s where I went.

When I finally left Hurricane I was debating whether or not I should take the I-70 cutoff and head to the San Rafael Swell. Taking this course of action would be somewhere around 150 miles out of my way, and the day was well half over.

As the interchange loomed steadily nearer at Cove Fort, I made my decision.

I turned.





I passed through several rainstorms along my way, and a building worth of a few photos. As I traveled, I breathed in the beauty of southern Utah. It was well over an hour before I began to see the familiar sandstone cliffs, arrayed with vermillion and amber about me.

Into the playlist went Nickel Creek, and it was official.





I was home.

I can’t express the feeling I had seeing memorable landmarks as I traveled. I’d taken the boys I mentored there once, I’d gotten lost out in that area, there’s the canyon where I’d run out of water, that’s where I’d taken that one photo…

The memories seemed to swirl around and consume me.

I took to a dirt road and began to head into the heart of the Swell. It was much colder than I’d ever known—usually since most of my excursions took place between April and October. It now being the tail end of November brought a distinct chill with it, but this was not unwelcome as I was usually roasting on my visits to this hallowed place.

I took the opportunity to capture a few images as the sun was setting. I’d hoped that I’d be able to hike to Little Grand Canyon and sit at the edge of the sandstone cliffs to watch the sunset, but unfortunately daylight was waning, and there was no way I’d be able to make it there in time.






With this prospect out of the running, I instead decided to try my hand at a few night images with extended exposure. I tried several variations of these images, however, I soon found that my 2,000,000 candlepower light was nearly dead—I should have recharged it.

Curses.

I instead tried something I’ve only recently gotten into: using an external flash to light up the subject of focus with a decreased shutter speed and medium aperture. In other words, I would leave the shutter open and move all around the tree, lighting it up with the flash. For each of the images I used the flash about 14 times. This is what gives the images a ‘ghostly’ glow similar to what I imagine the tree of life would have looked like.

When my shots were finished, I found myself standing alone in pitchy darkness. The aged cliffs rose all about me in silent, shuddering awe. In the sky, an ocean of stars took to their nightly journey across the heavens.

It was absolutely overwhelming and yet welcomed…for I knew that I was probably the only person within a 20 mile radius of my current location. One couldn’t get more alone than I was at that time.

Before long I continued onward to find a panel of petroglyphs to try out extended shutter time and painting with a flashlight, but alas, my “super” flashlight—being near dead—only allowed for one image before dying altogether.

It wasn’t the best shot, but not the worst one either.

The journey home was uneventful, and it was well into the evening that I arrived home, falling in to familiar covers to wrap myself away from the relentless chill of night.

It wasn’t long before I fell into a slumber which held me captive until this morning.

I decided to read up on emails and to get ready for the day when I noticed I had an email from one particular woman who had requested a copy of a video I’d posted on YouTube. She wanted to use it for a Christmas party, and had written to inquire if I would be willing to send her a copy on DVD she could show to a large group. I checked my backup drive for the master video and discovered that I had deleted it some time ago. I remembered that I’d archived it on a DVD though.

I began to look around for the sleeve of said DVDs, remembering that that was the case I’d taken with me on my trip. As I began to scour the house for it, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t with the things I’d brought in last night, so it must have still been in the car.

A quick inspection of my vehicle told me at once that the case was NOT there. Panic started to well up inside of me. That case had master video files AND photography images I didn’t have anywhere else!

I concluded that the case had fallen out of my car when I went off for my night photoshoot and, not realizing it was missing, I’d left it behind on the ground. I double checked everything and my worst realizations were confirmed.

The DVD sleeve was indeed gone.

I quickly began to pack a few various and sundry items, and took them to my car. I knew where the case probably was…the only problem was, it would be a five hour round trip to get it.

I said a small prayer and packed the last few items I’d need in my car. As I put the final necessities onto the backseat, I had the distinct feeling that I should look—yet again—under both of the front the seats.
Grudgingly I did so, and what did I see?

Popcorn…

Just kidding.

It was the case. Somehow or another, it had gotten tucked back under the seat and it was impossible to see it when looking from the front. However, from the back, it was more readily noticed.

I have to be honest, while a part of me felt trepidation at traveling all the way back to the San Rafael Swell, another part of me wishes I’d gone anyhow. I never did get to sit on the edge of the cliffs and watch the sunset.

10 comments:

Danielle said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures you got on the way home!!! I cannot wait until I can afford a good camera and try the "light painting". The tree in the dark is amazing and I LOVE the petroglyphs!! I'm glad you found your case of DVDs! You'll have to try your trip down to catch the sunset soon though!

mywest said...

Son,
Pictures are great...almost as if I was there....Love, DAD

Deo Volente said...

I laughed out loud when you said "popcorn" thank you, remarkable photos by the way.

Gerb said...

You were the only person within a 20-mile radius... I can't get that out of my head. Some days I would LOVE to be that alone.

As always, your words turned your return trip into a magical journey. Thanks for sharing!

Kris said...

I'm glad you made it home. And beautiful pictures!!!!!!!!! You are sooooooo good!

smalltoes said...

I love your pictures. You are amazing!

grinNberrett said...

I am so very grateful that you didn't crash while taking your self portrait. While your photography is very beautiful, you are even more beautiful. Practice safe driving, especially when you are in the middle of nowhere.

Kathy said...

Wow, did you mean to illuminate the petroglyphs in the shape of a dinosaur?! Pretty good for one shot!

Teachinfourth said...

DS - The light painting is a lot of fun. I tried it out last night too, but it didn't work out nearly as nicely. Of course, I wasn't really taking time to do it...just a quick version just to test it out.

Dad - They turned out better than I thought they would which was great.

DV - Thanks. It is a lot more fun to share the photos with others than to hoard them all to myself.

Gerb - Sounds like you'll be taking a 'magical journey' before too much longer. Hope it is fun though I don't think you'll get to enjoy the '20 mile' thing at all.

Kris - It was nice to be here. Sleeping in one's own bed is always great.

ST - Glad you liked them. Like I said earlier, it's a lot more fun to share them with others than to keep them all to myself.

G&B - Good thing the self-portrait was taken with a small point-and-shoot camera. I don't think I could have managed it with my Nikon D60...a bit too bulky.

Mom - I should probably tell you that I did intend that. I should also go on to point out that even though the dinosaurs and the people who lived in this area never did coexist, it is a metaphor for all things ancient.

However, it was a coincidence...I didn't even notice that until you pointed it out. I was trying to paint it before my light died.

Richard & Natalie said...

Hey TF, As I was perusing your photos, I noticed your light painting of the tree looks a lot like the cover of Onerepublic's album 'Dreaming Out Loud'. I just thought it was just a very cool coincidence...

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