“Big Indian Rock”

Big Indian Rock, Lisbon Valley, SE Utah (c) Mike Utley

I was raised on a farm about an hour from Lisbon Valley in southeast Utah. It’s an out-of-the-way place of red rock formations and sage-sprinkled canyons used for cattle grazing and open-pit copper mining (and yes, both activities have damaged the land considerably). I photographed this scene one summer evening in the late-1990s as the sun slanted toward the horizon and shadows encroached upon Big Indian Rock (upper left). I was intrigued by the strong diagonal slope my vantage point provided, as well as the bold blocks of color. It was a contrasting scene due to the brightly lit rock formations and the shadows, and because I was using slide film (which has a significantly narrower exposure latitude than negative film), I was unsure if I could render the scene properly exposed and still capture shadow details. The motto for photographers who use slide film is β€œExpose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.” My goal here was to focus on composition and color, so I decided against using a graduated neutral density filter, which would have created more balance between the highlights and shadows. I thought that allowing the shadows to block-up a bit simplified the image and helped it adhere to my philosophy of quiet contemplation in nature. Busy photographs are chaotic and cause tension, and I sought peace and stillness here, so the fewer distractions, the better. There is still detail in the shadows, but not enough to distract from the tranquil feeling these rocks convey. I like the composition here, with the two rock formations standing near diagonal power-points in the scene against the brilliant blue sky and dark shadows. The rocks glow with the warm tones of the lowering sun and contrast well against the cool blue and black hues. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

41 thoughts on ““Big Indian Rock”

  1. Looks like chocolate and cinnamon. Am I trying to say that your photographs are tasty? Probably! A brilliant angle and the lighting displays the brilliance of the rocks while the rest of the scene is swallowed by darkness. Awesome Mike! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Chocolate and cinnamon! I can definitely see that! (Now I’m craving cookies…) πŸ˜€ I’m always pleased to read your comments, Terveen. You’re so enthusiastic and positive, and it really makes my day. Thanks so much for your constant support. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Mark. The sky was very cooperative in this image. Such a deep blue hue! It’s definitely an advantage of living in an extremely rural area, far from air pollution. Also, the arid desert is free from haze associated with humid climates, so the sky is such a deep, azure tone. Thanks for the kind words as always. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Another beautiful photo, Mike.. focussing on keeping the light and shadows in their due perspective.. highlighting the beauty of still, calm, grounded, patient, strong rocks.. standing high/tall against the shodows and the beautiful blue sky over them. Amazing combination of colours and perspectiveπŸ‘ love it !!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. β€œExpose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.” you did it so wellπŸ‘ shadows falling on the unwanted details/ distractions and the beauty of rocks is, therefore, highlighted.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. β€œExpose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.” you did it so wellπŸ‘ shadows falling on the unwanted details/ distractions and the beauty of rocks is, therefore, highlighted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Saima. The photographer’s motto (when using slide film|) of “Expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may” really sounds like sort of a profound principle for life in general, you know? Focus on the positive (highlights) and let go of negativity (shadows). I love nature photography because it’s brimming with important metaphors for life. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes it is, dear MikeπŸ™‚ that’s why i quoted that sentence again, just to indicate the beautiful message it contains.. and you got it, MikeπŸ‘ i truly appreciate your wisdomπŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

    2. No worries at all, Saima–I actually posted a duplicate comment on my own blog last night by accident! πŸ˜€ I had to hurry and delete the duplicate once I noticed it! It happens to the best of us. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Xenia. The desert is magical, especially during the morning and evening hours. The warmth of the light paints the rocks in such gorgeous hues and brings them to life for a few moments. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kirsten. Yeah, I can’t seem to stop babbling about my images, eh? πŸ˜€ In reality, I’m an extremely quiet person, but some things just inspire me and I can’t keep from sharing my thoughts. I appreciate you and your support so much, Kirsten. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Daphny. To be honest, I’ve thought about the book idea a lot over the years. I just can’t afford to self-publish a book, and I’m not able to go the traditional route of publishing houses for several reasons.. I’ve had an idea for a large photo book focusing on rock formations, both deserts and mountains, which would include writing/poetry with each image. It’s just beyond my reach at the moment. Writers dream of publishing their work in book form (and I’m SO happy for your own dream-come-true in this regard), and photographers dream of publishing their images in large-format books. It’s a fun idea to ponder and I hope someday it can become a reality. How cool it must feel to hold your very own book in your own hands! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You’re welcome, Mike! I do hope one day you will achieve this dream as well and I pray you do, that would be one heck of a book I’m sure, I’ll be the first in line to purchase it as well. πŸ™‚
        I’m excited and anxious at the same time, books on the way now will launch next month by God’s grace.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: β€œBig Indian Rock” – MobsterTiger

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