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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Capturing Southwest Light

Larry Lindahl explores his desert home in search of the unexpected

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Blooming agave in midmorning sunlight along shaded sandstone cliff walls in Woods Canyon, Coconino National Forest.

Eminence Break beachhead on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.
“On the fifth day of following a boulder-strewn wilderness canyon,” explains Lindahl, “my hiking partner and I rounded a sharp corner, and there was the most beautiful agave I had ever seen against a cliff wall. The tall stalk above the spiky plant was in perfect full bloom, and we had gotten there at the absolute perfect time of day. The cliff was still in shade while the yellow flowers were, for the moment, highlighted in bright overhead sunlight. The juxtaposition was stunning and serene at the same time. An hour before, and the agave would have been in the shade, a half hour later, and the cliff wall washed out with direct light. The timing was pure synchronicity. The circumstances that day were so perfect that the photograph almost looks unreal.”

It’s easy to hear in Lindahl’s words a passion both for photography and the natural world. He works to tune in to the emotions elicited by a place in order to shape the photographs he makes of it.

“When I’m shooting close-ups of wildflowers,” he explains, “I recognize that I’m feeling curious and in synch with the wonder of life. Or when I shoot landscapes during the magic hour, I sense a spiritual connection to the richness of life. I’m working with my emotions, recognizing their spectrum of shades and colors, and letting them into my creativity.”

Although Lindahl wants to showcase his own personal connections with nature through his photography, it’s also clear that he’s in the business of honoring the landscape. After all, the real landscape he encountered upon moving to Sedona 16 years ago stoked his passion for photography.

“I was inspired to explore,” he says of the region, “and felt like a kid with the biggest backyard you could ever imagine. Not only did I find the rock formations fascinating in their uniqueness, I soon discovered that the light is truly magical at times. The rock formations and what geology has offered in the way of textures and patterns seem infinite. I constantly find new ways to photograph Sedona that keep my interest going. Just add snow, and the landscape is all new. Go out on a day when the clouds are building, and the sky becomes as important as the rock formations, and the combination becomes very powerful.”

Unlike many parts of the state, Sedona experiences all four seasons, thanks to its high elevation. The changing weather plays a large part in the unique images that it affords Lindahl the opportunity to create.

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