Crossing Over


Sedona, Arizona, has long been known for its towering spires of red rock and beautiful desert scenery. In many locations surrounding the town, there are thought to be 'vortexes' where one can find a greater sense of energy, enlightenment, or euphoria. These are specific geographic spots to position oneself and feel at peace with nature. One such location is Red Rock Crossing, where my photo was captured. From this vantage point Cathedral Rock can be seen vaulting skyward from the desert floor.

During a cold winter day, I was lucky enough to have the entire place to myself, a rarity for this location, as it is one of the more iconic scenes. Being such a famous site, this place has been nearly over-photographed. I’ve been there many times prior but on this occasion, I wanted to challenge myself to capture it in a unique way. I began studying the reflections and shapes of the puddles in the sandstone. To get my camera as close to the ground as possible, while still on a steady tripod, a trick I use is to flip the legs of my tripod over, and let my camera hang upside-down. Normally I would flip the image back over in post processing, but in doing so, I felt this was a unique composition and worked perfectly for the scene. In editing photographs, a helpful tip for choosing compositional elements is to flip the image over. This removes the preconceived notions of the experience and allows the artist to view the image unobjectively from a composition, texture and color standpoint.

The strong 'V' shape of the puddle is my ode to the vortex. The grains of sand in the pool of water become the stars and Milky Way in the sky above the reflected spires. There’s almost an illusion of looking through a portal into another dimension. The viewer is given pause due to the unusual perspective and they need to consider whether they are inside looking out, or outside looking in. The title of the photo, “Crossing Over”, comes from this story of transcendence and the location of my capture, Red Rock Crossing.

I captured this image using a Canon 5DMIII using a Canon 17-40mm lens with a circular polarizer to reduce the reflections of the sky. My settings were f/16, ISO 100, 40mm at 0.5s with Auto Exposure Bracket to capture 7 exposures at +/-3 stops. Using an exposure blending technique, I combined these images into one image. With a little post processing in Lightroom and Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro4, the final result is a dreamy and surreal perspective of one of the most iconic scenes in the American Landscape.

Date Added
August 9, 2016