“Boulder, Cliff & Moon”

Boulder, Cliff & Moon, Lisbon Valley, SE Utah (c) Mike Utley

D35-1(S)—Boulder, Cliff & Moon, Lisbon Valley, SE Utah
Lisbon Valley is a rather nondescript area in southeastern Utah devoid of the arches and spectacular rock formations found in nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, but I’ve made a few nice images there. I loved the simplicity of this “intimate landscape” of boulder, cliff and moon. The rocks glowed brilliantly in the westering late-evening sun (no color manipulation here), and the darkened sky contrasts starkly with the fiery orange tones. The moon was rendered tiny by the 24mm wide-angle lens I used, which exaggerates the distance between objects in the foreground and background. I’ve always found the surface details of red rock sandstone fascinating, and that’s what I was attempting to convey here. This is a favorite image of mine due to the colors, surface details, lines, forms and overall contemplative tone. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

31 thoughts on ““Boulder, Cliff & Moon”

    1. I appreciate this so much, David. I had a dream years ago of publishing a “coffee table photobook” of my images and accompanying poetry and prose. I even had a title for it: “Bones of the Earth,’ which represents what I consider stone formations to be–the bones of the earth. I was never able to accomplish this goal. I don’t know if the dream is entirely dead or not. I thought it would be a wonderful project to combine two of my greatest loves–writing and nature photography–to create something intimate and personal to share with others. Anyway, thanks so much for your ever-present kind support and encouragement, David. It means so much to me. 🙂

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  1. Your photographs unspeakably touch the heart with warmth and love for nature all it encompasses. I imagined myself sitting on that flat rock plate and facing the other side, watching the sky. What a great feeling of relief! Many thanks for sharing. 😊🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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    1. Thanks, Lamittan. I’m glad this image held meaning for you. It was a really nice moment when I stumbled upon this scene in some out-of-the-way canyon on a long-ago summer evening. It’s such a random, ordinary area, but I’ve explored it many times due to its close proximity to the family farm, and managed to uncover a few of its secrets. In the nearby national parks, the landscape screams at you in its otherworldly glory; in Lisbon Valley, it whispers to you and forces you to seek out those secrets. It’s a special place for me. 🙂

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    1. Much obliged, Terveen. I like to try to find uniqueness and beauty in the mundane. I was captivated by the basic lines and forms of this scene, how the rocks are split into a triad, how the crack leads toward the moon, and, of course, the colors. What I loved about nature photography was it allowed me to impose order on a very chaotic world, which resulted in a sense of calm tranquility. It was such a meditative exercise, basically walking around with my camera and saying to myself, “What do I see? What do I REALLY see?” It really is like poetry in that it’s so incredibly personal. Take ten people with the same camera at the same scene at the same time and you’ll end up with ten completely different images. We see the world through the filters of our emotions and experiences. I always sought to impose a sense of peace on everything I saw through my camera lens. This particular image is incredibly contemplative and deep to me (I’m biased, o’ course!). 🙂 Thanks for such a nice response. I really appreciate your constant support. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Grace. The desert can be beautiful in its starkness and simplicity. Everything is stripped away and only the truth remains, to wax poetic about it. No pretentions whatsoever among the harsh sand and stone and vegetation that clings to life so tenaciously. As much as I love forests, I love the desert equally for its quiet pensiveness and solitary ruggedness. I’m so glad you liked this image. I appreciate your kindness so much. 🙂

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  2. this is a very thoughtfully shot photographic work. in this magnificent scene, you expressed a deep revelation of concern over the world. The photo may have been taken from the past but it speaks so loudly to the present. The round rock that Lamittan wants to sit on is the earth we all “sit on”, The two portion that forms the crack is the imminent power (war, ideology, pandemic….) that could widen the space in between which we call hell. therefore the fate of the earth is unknown…. The colour of the nature is your message to heal the crack into one whole place that we all share…. Love your work as always…

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    1. This is a beautiful interpretation of this image. That crack certainly represents a schism that threatens our world. I like to think the fact that it leads the eye to the moon is a sign of possible hope. The capstone–the stone atop the crack–holds back the destruction, but for how long? You’re right–though this image was created many years ago, it applies to our current time as well. Your creative analyses always delight me and help me see things from a fresh perspective. Thanks for your kind words and insight as always! 🙂


    1. Thank you kindly, Diana. The glow coming off red rock sandstone during magic-hour lighting is otherworldly indeed. And you’re right–Utah overflows with natural beauty, particularly the southern half of the state. At the farm, I used to go mountain biking through these red rock canyons (canyon biking?) and it was such a feeling of isolation and solitude and wonder at the peaceful silence of the world. Sandstone canyons, sage brush, pinyon pine and juniper stretched for as far as the eye could see. Good times. 🙂

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      1. I have yet to explore a slot canyon, but I’ve seen quite a bit of the area since my brother lived in Moab for a few years. It’s too dry a climate for me, but what a spectacular place to vacation! I love your description of the “peaceful silence of the world.” Wondrous!

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    2. Wow, Moab, eh? I grew up on a farm an hour and a half from Moab (I went to school in Monticello). Yes, it’s quite arid–our farm averaged about ten inches of precipitation a year (at 7,000 feet elevation). I’ve never explored a slot canyon, either, but find images and videos of them to be fascinating. I’m in Colorado now and haven’t been back to Utah in years. Hopefully at some point things will level out with regards to the pandemic and everything else and traveling will be an option again. There are still a lot of places on my travel bucket list. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeff. I love the desert, too, but I yearn for the forests and rugged shores of the Oregon Coast. 🙂 I suppose what we find commonplace tends to lose its radiance after awhile. I hope I can return to Oregon one day, and I hope you can make your way to the red rock deserts someday, too. Beauty is everywhere if we look for it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Aaysid. I always like to try to give a bit of background on things as a way of communicating with the reader/viewer beyond the poem or image. Especially with photography, it’s fun for me to share the experience of making the image and what it means to me. There’s a story behind every image I’ve ever made, and while not all of those stories are blockbusters of action, drama and romance, ( 😀 ), some of them are dear to me and I hope they resonate with the reader as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Xenia. It really does have a meditative feel to it. I, too, liked how the crack led the viewer’s eye to the moon as if to point the viewer to a new perspective on things. I appreciate your kind comments! 🙂

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