So many stories surrounding this image. Of which include; powering through a month-old knee injury, getting a bit lost and then un-lost, ‘no fall’ zone hiking, fellow hikers lending me their trekking pole for the night and spending hours alone in the dark in a cave to then hike out in the dark, alone. Of course returning with a successful image always makes those details worth while when the effort is rewarded. This location, on the edge of a cliff, tucked in to a cave, was used hundreds of years ago by the Anasazi Indians, though the details and usage are still unknown. Being as I was out there, with a very clear sky, my instinct turns to photographing the stars. It’s amazing how much light cameras can pick up nowadays. Watching the nocturnal transition from such a remote location, one cant help but be transported back to ancient times. Chills. And then for that very dark walk back to the car….
When I travel to shoot I need to research an area to get an idea for what to explore perhaps, and find other things along the way of course, but in doing so I try to extremely limit my exposure to other people’s photographs. Never do I want to be at a location and have a shot to replicate. Of course there are very oft photographed areas that I am sure to overlap, however if similarities occur this would most likely be by chance. Which I am ok with as my intention was pure.
Arriving at this southern Utah location I knew very little about what to find here, other than bizarre rock formations. Which could be said about much of southern UT 🙂 I took the late afternoon to wander around and explore what the area had to offer. Rock monoliths standing like goblins or some otherworldly creatures. As I came across this arch section the challenge became how would I photograph this place. And I moved on to find other rocks to photograph at sunset. The clearish skies did not lend themselves to good color but my default then becomes stars. Making my way back to this spot I moved back and forth trying to best compose the shapes in front of me and then the waiting game for the night sky to make it’s full appearance. During this course of events I took out my phone and checked the Sky Walk app to see what kind of sky I would be looking at. Fast forwarding to the morning I saw that the Milky Way would actually cross in to the gap! Well that settled it. I was going to set my alarm for 5am and come back here. Knowing it would be almost impossible to compose this shot in the dark, even with my headlamp, I marked the sand where the tripod legs were to be able to place it back at the weeee hours of the morn.
Dinner in the car and sleeping in the back of the truck…5am comes. I head out to my spot and set up. There’s the tail end of the Milky Way as expected though not the super vibrant section that was over my right shoulder. I ran around for about 30-45 min light-painting and shooting. Then finally deciding to try and capture other shots while the stars were still blazing (see: There Be Goblins). For whatever reason I decided to head back to the spot of the arch to just capture it one more time. Just in case. The faint light of dawn already starting to rub out the stars I ran around even faster. Finally settling on the fact the stars were gone to the daylight and off to find other compositions.
Weeks later, while going through the photographs it was clear. My choice to go back and reshoot the original idea was a good one. While the sky was not the blazing Milky Way I wanted the cool blue tones of twilight combined with the warmer light from my headlamp created a surreal scene. And even still, the Milky Way can be seen through the arching rocks. When it all comes together, even if different than planned, it makes all the early mornings worth while 🙂
Admittedly this is
2 days late. And pretty telling of where life stands as of current. May 7th is my Kauaiversary. My land date. Forever burned in to my synapses as the beginning of the current phase of my life. I landed at night. Without ever having been to Hawaii in my life. Was picked up at the airport by my employer at the time who I hadn’t seen in a year and driven north to where I was to live and work, Princeville. At some point along the ride I asked “so where’s the ocean”, which at that point we pulled over to the side of the highway and rolled down the window. The spot was Kealia just north of Kapa’a on the east side of the island. The ocean, not more than a couple of hundred yards from the car. Next was the mysterious rain that was falling without a cloud to originate from. Stars above. Rain on the windshield. Fascinating! And finally to my studio apartment for the next month. My landing pad.
The next morning brought what I would eventually come to be accustomed to, trade showers and the sun which was to show me the incredible beauty outside my door of the north shore. 3000’+ mountains, waterfalls, Rainbow Eucalyptus and Plumeria. I walked down to work…my Canon 20D in hand. Snapping away. A rather surreal experience. The idea; move to Kauai to open a new restaurant and manage. Then reevaluate after 6 months. Probably go back to Utah to ski another season…
…6 years later. 3 Galleries. And the journey’s just begun 🙂
Thank you to everyone that’s been a part of the last 6 years and of course to this island that’s taken me in, challenged me, and always given me what I need. Whether I liked it or not.
Here’s to 6 more <3