of my favorite places to photograph is the Four Corners
area, where the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and
New Mexico all join together. A friend I had been photographing
with earlier told me about a very special place in southern
Utah called, Butler Wash Indian Ruins. The 20 room cliff
dwelling was occupied from 1060 to 1250 AD and had been
inexplicably abandoned about 1300. I had to see it!
So, in May of 2001 I headed for Butler Wash. I arrived
in the late afternoon and hiked to the ruins. They were
impressive: a large alcove at the base of a half mile
tall, moderately steep hillside of slickrock. The next
morning I arrived back at the ruins before sunrise and
photographed them in morning twilight. As soon as the
sun came up, the scene became too high in contrast so
I packed up my gear and began walking up the hill. It
was an extraordinary landscape. Solid rock for a half
mile in any direction. As always, I kept my eyes open
I fanned my way back and forth across the hillside as
I climbed. Once in a while I would see a speck of color
and investigate. I envisioned what this area would look
like with water flowing down the hillside after a rain
storm. Amazing, I thought! Soon I decided to climb to
the top to see the view looking off to the west. As
I approached the ridge top, I spotted a small splash
of color to my left. As I got closer I felt a tingle
inside. Anticipating something special, I worked my
way around to the opposite side of the flowers. I became
flushed with feelings of wonder and awe. There before
me was the composition of ‘Desert Rhythm.’
As I admired this gift, I realized I would have to come
back in the evening to experience the proper lighting
required to capture my image. A question arose: “Would
the flowers wilt under the intense midday heat and lose
their essence?” I spent the rest of the day in
90 degree heat doing domestic camp chores and resting.
Occasionally my mind would drift to the image I had
seen earlier that morning, wondering if all the conditions
would align that evening.
About an hour before sunset, I began climbing back to
the ridge. The landscape took on a entirely different
look and feel from the harsh sunlight of morning. The
rock had softened. When I arrived, I was excited to
see the west facing flowers glowing in the last rays
of sunlight. My pulse quickened as I set up my camera.
Fine tuning the composition, my anticipation of a great
image was confirmed. Wisps of wind interrupted the silence.
Would the wind shut me out or relax in twilight? When
the sun finally set, the wind settled down and I began
exposing film. Six second exposures gave way to eight
then twelve seconds. Before I knew it the light dropped
and I was finished.
I felt a warm glow of gratitude and literally danced
a little jig on the ridge top, celebrating my success.