One of my favorite images from last year and a good example of the influence Instagram has had on my photography. In the last three years I've put myself in the frame significantly more often than the thirteen years previous. I think the reason I've been more open to those opportunities has a lot to do with the photographers I follow on Instagram. An increased exposure to images of tiny people in giant landscapes has helped me tune-in to situations were that sense of scale provided by the human form makes setting my self timer seem like the appropriate thing to do.
It had been several life changes since I'd made my one and only trip into Coyote Gulch with my good friend Ken. It wasn't the stunning beauty or the idyllic camping that kept me away, but the canyon's reputation as one of the most popular in all of southern Utah.
In Steve Allen's book, Canyoneering 3, he warns, "Spring brings an overwhelming number of people into the canyon". The Park Service hasn't set any limits on the number of people to enter the drainage, but has set strict regulations for camping in Coyote Gulch; including no fires, and the directive to pack out ALL solid waste!
Well, it was spring, and with the help of a dicey forecast to keep the hordes away, I decided to head down to Coyote Gulch to see what I'd been missing.
Serendipity smiled on me this late August evening. I had just returned to Lake Blanche after spending the evening avoiding the well worn Sundial Peak reflecting in Lake Blanche at sunset image.
It's not that there aren't slight twists, and not because it's not a slam dunk every time you get some decent light, it is. This isn't a promise to never shoot it again either, but that image doesn't help me grow as an artist.
So, in search of something more personal, I wandered down to the other two lakes, and ended up finding a cool little spot in the rock ribs north of Lake Lilian that avoided that sweet sunset light all together. Doh.
It did feel like artistic growth to go to this beautiful place I feel intimately familiar with, seek out something new and unique, and execute an image I deemed worthy of sharing. Using my artistic powers to isolate and arrange; using universal natural elements to express something entirely personal about the beauty of this place that isn't seen in a passing glance, felt good.
Sill, I couldn't help but feel a little melancholy as I climbed back up to Lake Blanche in the afterglow of sunset. I had made a few good images, but I didn't feel like I had made a slam dunk. Worse, I had missed out on some pretty great light.
When I got back to Lake Blanche, I immediately dropped down to lake level. Maybe I could still get a nice long exposure of the Sundial reflected in the lake, lit by the fading light of the western sky, I thought.
When I found the composition I wanted, I dropped my pack and pulled out my camera. Just then, two backpackers crested the ridge behind me and paused for a few seconds; just long enough for me to capture their silhouettes and my most evocative image of the evening.