Limited Edition Fine Art Photography of the Desert Southwest and Beyond


A collection of updates, shared thoughts, experiences and, of course, images 

No Surprise

No Surprise...

That's what I call this image.

No Surprise. Utah desert

No Surprise. Utah desert

I got really, REALLY scared getting into the right position to create this image.  

Here's the story about it.  

The scars in the cliff are high up on the wall - at least 25 feet...  so in order to get into a position looking at it from a "straight on" angle, instead of from down below, I had to climb up this big escarpment on the opposite canyon wall.  

I had my camera bag with water, camera, lenses, filters, etc on my back (maybe 20 lbs) and my tripod in my hand as I began ascending the sandstone ramp to where I needed to place my tripod..  

You may not know this about me, but I have about a 20 year background in rock climbing - so this kind of climbing isn't strange nor intimidating.

As I ascended the ramp it got steeper and steeper... and steeper.  

I'm not in as good a physical shape as I was 10 years ago, nor do I regularly (even irregularly!) climb, anymore.  So by the time I got to the really sketchy part - and my sticky-rubber shoes were even slipping off the rock - I felt that maybe I was in trouble.  

I got to a point where I couldn't move.

The fear gripped me!...

Aeon Jones Photo_SqSp-3.jpg

I was sweating buckets... I was super nervous because when you're in this position it's extremely difficult to move upwards and impossible to go down - unless you accidentally opt for the super express cheese-grater descent.  No thanks!

So what do you do in this situation?  Can't fall - I don't want to leave a bunch of bloody skin on the rock nor cause damage to a bag full of extremely expensive camera equipment (I'd rented a $10k camera for the weekend!!!).  So all you can do is go up.  

And I was SO close to safety.

So I threw my tripod up to the sandy flat patch just 3 feet above me and I buckled down my nerves, grabbed the little nothing of a handhold in front of me and raised my leg to the most friction-y part of the rock which I could raise my leg to... and I made the move.

Ta-da!  I didn't die!  Yay!!!!!!  Heck, I didn't even ruin any clothes.  

But I was wiped out.  The air temperature was warm.  I was sweating buckets from the exertion and was now breathing very heavily and was beginning to feel the effects of SO much adrenaline coursing through my veins.  It took me a few minutes to calm down and realize that I had made a grave error in judgement in choosing which way to come up this ramp to create this photograph.

No Surprise... but in color.

No Surprise... but in color.

After taking the photograph and breaking down the tripod and packing away the rest of my equipment I found an easier way down...

Easier and emotionally better - because it was done mostly via butt-scoot.

I got down to the ground, thanked the universe for guiding me to this epic scene and protecting me from... well, ME. and began my walk out.  

I don't know if it was because I was feeling so grateful on my walk out that I was more aware of my surroundings or because of the sheer awe I was in from seeing this scar pattern in the cliff face, but I saw a lot of other, very interesting details in the rock on my way back to my truck.

geology detail

geology detail

Now, it could be said that I was in a very geologically rich area but it could also be said, maybe, that after my close brush with death (OK, maybe semi-severe injury) I was more receptive to life and the incredible offerings of mother nature around me.  Either way, whatever it was, I was noticing some really incredible details on my way back to my truck.  

something about those dried droplets....

something about those dried droplets....

I'd like to think that I would have seen these cool details either way - but to be honest, I didn't notice them on my way in to the canyon where I took the first images of the canyon wall.  Whether that was because I knew what awaited me or on account of some sense of anxiousness I don't know.  

But slowing down allowed me to see these details which, upon deeper reflection, are important.

Aeon Jones Photo_SqSp.jpg

Why are they important?  I don't know.  Or, more accurately, I don't have the words to explain it.  These details are the essence of what makes life... life! 

And to quote Ferris Bueller

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".

It's a good reminder for me to slow down while I'm taking a photograph when my life's (or severe injury) is not on the line in any way.  Pay attention to what's around me.  Breathe the good air, touch the rock or smell the flowers.  Slow down.  Be present.  

It's a good lesson for me to learn.  And because I'm always learning... I'm glad I got this one in sooner than later.  

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Talk with you in a couple weeks,