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22 May 2006



Love the hoodoos, we have them up here, something I've always found incredulous. We usually make a trip to "Cowboy Canyon" every spring, but alas we've missed going again this year. I've vowed to go this summer, to see the site in a different season.


Your best photos yet, to my eye, anyway. The trapped blue shapes are stunning and the blue/orange complementarity is my favorite pairing.


Clare--The hoodoos create an incredibly surreal world. I checked one of the photographers on your sidebar for more views of the Arctic and was surprised at the similarity of your landscape--both the red stone and erosional beauty--with that of the Colorado Plateau. I'll look forward to seeing photographs of your next visit to "Cowboy Canyon" as well as other parts of the region. I hope some time to have the opportunity to visit the Arctic.

Laura--I'm sure any increase in the quality of photographs is just accidental--the quality of the light and the shapes of the stone make the images and the place very appealing. As for photography, I think I'm limited to the documentary snapshooter category. The place was, however, very beautiful.


You're lucky to have places like this, Larry. Aotearoa is remarkably diverse, but we don't have "deserts". The few places we might consider deserts are small and don't have this type of character.

I enjoy the way you write about your time in these places; I get a real sense that you feel at home there. Although you downplay your photographs, I think you do yourself an injustice: you might think you're a snapshooter, but you're photographing your home and that appreciation shows up. What you choose to photograph is at least as important as how you photograph it. The pejorative sense of "snapshooter" implies photographing without thought; looking without seeing. You, OTOH, SEE from an informed and deeply appreciative understanding. I'm very grateful for that. Thanks Larry.


Pete—thanks very much, I’m grateful to you for your thoughts. Out of a fear of not meeting our aspirations, some of us downplay what we’ve tried to achieve. Clearly, I work to make photographs that convey a sense of place and experience, especially because of the impact that the photographs and arts of others have had on my understanding. I work in emulation of that art because of its strong effect. I am also curious about the relationship between the visual image, the narrative, and landscape—for example, I think of the books of W. G. Sebald (in which memory is the landscape) as well as the effects that you create at Pohanginapete. I can’t quite get myself to enunciate the relationship I seek, but I write various illegible notes about it as I travel.

I do feel very lucky to have this sabbatical year in the desert—the opportunity to explore this place and my relationship to it was an important objective in coming here. We all have deserts and oceans whether or not we have deserts and oceans, but this place has drawn me, and I’ve been working to understand why. The evocative power of place must surely lie in how we connect to it and make art out of that relationship.


both your post and your responses to comments are beautiful.

the desert
hmmm, i was going to say "the desert is a very primal spiritual landscape" but i stopped in mid thought before the fingers hit the keys because i've experienced strong primal spiritual forces in every natural landscape i've been privileged to visit or live in....and, yes, a few of the landscapes constructed by humans.

anyway, the hoodoos of the valley of fire are vivid in my recollections and reflections on the land where i grew up. one of my favorite memories is collecting sandstone "marbles" created by the winds that swirled in and around those red rocks...forming, with water and frost and heat, bowls in the side of the upthrust formations....and the smaller chunks of stone that remained in the bowls were swirled and swirled until they were small round orbs. i searched for them when we convened to disassemble our childhood home when our parents were gone, but could not find them. i hope one of my parents or siblings gave them to another child...if not, i still treasure the feeling of delight in what seemed like a miracle: elements creating "toys" for us to find as we scrambled over the red hills on sunday afternoon picnics


Zephyr--the image of searching later in life for those wind-rounded 'marbles' collected in your childhood is very poetic. Wind and delight connect as shaping breezes passing from the land into your home.

I've spent little of time in Valley of Fire itself--I've walked only the face of the main ridge that faces Mead reservoir and the hills to the east--but I have botanized regularly over the years in that broader area. It's a beautiful landscape, and I'd like to explore the areas farther from the roads.

Rachel Nelson

This is my hometown, Ferron UT these pictures you took I've driven by thousands of times, it's like my backyard. It's very special.


Rachel--thanks for your note. You are lucky to have such a wonderful and beautiful backyard.

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