A Vision of the Mountains
Feb 12, 2017
I'll just go ahead and admit it up front, I've had a love affair with Moab for a long time. The landscape of the canyon country and the surrounding mountains has always touched my soul. Long before I moved to within a few hours drive, I made multiple trips there. The La Sal Mountains that rise to the east of town can reach into the view from most anywhere in the area, and on one of these trips I made it a goal of mine to capture a special image of them rising above the landscape. I was on the lookout for an interesting foreground element to place in front of them to complete the composition, a vision in my mind's eye of a great photograph.
This particular trip was an opportunity to share the area with my wife and a friend of ours for the first time. As we got out and explored the area, the "mountain shot" was one of the opportunities I was always looking for. Over the ensuing days, I tried it from a few different spots, but none of them quite measured up to what I wanted it to be. The vision was still not complete. One of the great opportunities to take advantage of in the area is to drive the La Sal Mountain Loop. This road leaves UT-128, passing through Castle Valley and heading up into the mountains, exiting in Spanish Valley south of Moab, where you meet US-191 to head back to town. You have a mix of expansive views down into the canyon country below and in your face views of the mountains that rise as high as 12,700 feet. The road itself climbs to over 8300 feet before dropping back to town. As we neared the end of the loop road itself near Spanish Valley, our friend traveling with us wanted to pull of to a historical marker just off the road to look for a geocache. As we walked around near this fenceline I looked back towards the mountains, and suddenly I had found my shot. I looked for the right angle to place the fence, and fired off a few shots.
I've found in my work that when I have a plan for what I'm looking for before I start out I often come back with better shots to work with. This technique of previsualization is something I learned from reading Galen Rowell, who has probably been the greatest influence on my photographic style. He was a big proponent of this, as well as learning to recognize how conditions will play out in the field and placing yourself in the right position. I've come to value this as well. When it came to capturing this view of the La Sal Mountains from Spanish Valley, the visual I had in my head that I was actively looking for was what made me find the shot. As I'm returning to Moab again in the next few days, I'm developing more ideas of shots I'm looking for, and planning how to put myself in the right positions to get them.
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