I’m a Colorado-based landscape photographer and for the better part of my time I have focused on composing images of majestic mountains and beautiful foliage. I never really had a huge desire to visit the desert Southwest. However, five years ago I decided to make a visit since it was relatively close. After a winter trip, I came away intrigued and energized. I couldn’t believe there was so much to see and I had neglected it for so long. Now, I make two to three trips to the desert Southwest each year. I have a huge affinity for the region which contrasts sharply with the images from Colorado I’ve been accustomed to.
When I first started visiting the southwest, I visited a handful of slot canyons. I really didn’t know what to expect other than I was enthralled with images I had seen from slot canyons earlier. This particular image was taken in spring and depicts a section of Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon in Utah. It’s a heavily traversed spot that sees many visitors a day. So photographing can be a challenge with numerous visitors walking the canyon entering your composition. In this photograph, I was drawn to the repeating patterns in the background, the striations on the wall, ending with a rock and debris in the foreground. I titled the Image “The Final Resting Place”.
That’s what the scene evoked to me: the effects of erosion creating these wonderful patterns, polishing the walls ending with the remnants of the process – these rocks assembled in a bunch at the end. This day, I was lucky enough that I had diffused light. I really hadn’t planned on it. I photographed this image around mid-day and the canyon walls were blocking the sun which allowed me to expose the image with many tones that would have otherwise been compromised by harsh shadows and strong light of a sun overhead.
I have returned back to this location multiple times since taking this image. I’ve visited in the winter and have seen snow and ice grace the walls. However, I haven’t been a fan of that look mainly because I think it detracts from the patterns. Additionally, weather has changed the foreground moving the rocks downstream further changing the look of the canyon over time. What I love about slot canyons is that you always recognize something new or different when you visit them. I enjoy visiting during different times of days and seasons observing patterntexture changes or witnessing the effects of the light and how that changes the canyon and compositions.
These canyons in all their beauty also serve as a testament to the power of nature. I’m always cautious and review weather forecasts prior to entering any slot canyon. Flash floods can be a real danger and it’s wise to avoid any slot canyon if there’s a chance for heavy rains or flash flooding. The canyon walls are often high making it very difficult to escape any high waters. – Tad Bowman
This image is available as a print here. You can read a long form article that I wrote on Bowman’s photography, ‘Big Landscapes & Intimate Details’, here. You can see Bowman’s work at his website, www.TadBowman.com. Follow him on Facebook, 500px and Flickr.
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM zoom lens @ 34mm – 2 second exposure @ f/22 – ISO 100