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on Aug 1, 2006 in Thought of the Month

Where Does Your Vision Take You? – 08.01.06

Mesa Arch (c) Moose Peterson

How many of you have been to Mesa Arch at Canyonlands Nat’l Park? I’ve been there just a couple of times personally. The first time I’ll never forget. I’d seen thousands of photographs of the arch, a couple just blew me away which is why it was high on my list of locales to photograph. What I saw in the photographs though is not what I saw standing at the arch.

The first time I went to the arch I had Laurie as my guide. We got up early and drove the 45min from Moab to be in position at the arch long before sun up. We arrived at the parking lot and it was one of those rare mornings, no one else was there. We walked up over the ridge and down the trail which is when I saw the edge of the canyon. I was confused and asked Laurie, “Where’s the Arch?� She said, “Right there!� I looked to where she pointed and saw a lump of rock. We kept walking towards it with just a slight hint of dawn way off to the east.

We get to the bottom of the path and then I saw the window. Dang, it’s small! The arch isn’t big enough to park my truck in it. In fact, depending on how you look at it, it’s not a arch at all but just a hole in the rock. Now I had seen the photos so I knew there was potential here for a great image, but at first, I sure couldn’t see it. Then the glow appeared in the east. WOW! Or better put OMG! The shutter started to smoke as I shot. Later that day looking at the images, I liked what I saw, but it’s not what I saw, not in my heart.

My first two visits I shot the arch with a 14mm and 12-24mm. What I came back with was the arch but it wasn’t an arch. Yeah, I had been faithful to the arch but it had no arch to it. The rock was all nice and plum, square and kinda lifeless. The last couple of visits, I wanted to put the arch in the arch, bring a new dimension and drama to a familiar photo.

In matching my vision with photographic vision, I was not true to the arch. In putting an arch to the arch, I had to use the 10.5 lens. Many have looked at the photo and they instantly recognize it as Mesa Arch, but they all have asked, everyone, how did I get that perspective?

Photography is such a unique and very special way to communicate the wonders we see. Lots of folks are talking about post processing and the possible ramifications of altering in post reality (as if that’s a new topic). Ever watch MythBusters on Discovery Channel? Adam has a great saying, “I reject your reality and substitute mine.� Food for thought there, really…where does your vision take you?

Photo captured by D2X, 10.5mm on Lexar digital film. Image worked in digital darkroom