Courthouse Wash

The Power of Place

For reasons often difficult to divine, certain places seem to be a cornucopia of photographic possibilities. These wondrous locations will-with contemplation-offer amazing opportunities. They are often unassuming, usually difficult to divine, but always rich with potential.

A quiet exploration of details will reveal the depth of a place, forcing the photographer to slow down and seek out compositions. This measured approach is perhaps the most difficult aspect of photography, requiring a calm mind and contemplative nature.

     
     
       
       

Slickrock Dreams

Drawn by the surrounding maze of canyons. I moved to Moab in 1980. Living in a tent at the bottom of Courthouse Wash, my explorations of this serpentine canyon began. After an extended day guiding raft trips down the Colorado River, I would seek respite and inspiration in the cool shadows and trickling stream of this lovely canyon. As my explorations continued and intensified, this quiet meander began to offer unlimited compositional possibilities. The details on the ancient canyon walls are exquisite, with multi-hued stains left from eons of rainstorms, complimented by miniature galaxies of lichen nestled at the base of the overhanging sandstone cliffs.

The light is inexplicably rich in Courthouse Wash, bouncing and reflecting from myriad surfaces, giving an odd illumination to the shifting sands around the tiny stream. Tiny seeps bubble up in intimate alcoves, supporting colonies of black algae. My explorations of Courthouse began through sheer happenstance, for the simple reason that I was living on its banks. The canyon was an escape, offering a quiet place to read, relax, and observe. The mystique of this canyon was gradually revealed over time.

     
     
       
             

Satori

Photography has become, with the passage of time, very much an intuitive process for me. I have developed a philosophy that relies on an emotional response to any given composition. In the Japanese, Satori is defined as a “sudden perception of felt knowledge”. This quick and inexplicable realization is exactly what I hope for, that point where intuition overcomes sensibility. This will create an emotional response, preparing me for those rare happenings that occur in the natural world, where a quiet place will develop, waiting to be recognized. These revelations come slowly, and Courthouse Wash is where my photographic style and philosophy began to blossom, where I began to develop and nurture a personal vision.

 

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Dunes of Magdelena

Courthouse Wash

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Luminosity

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All images copyright
Steve Mulligan,
all rights reserved.