Some times even the most mundane of scenes, the most commonplace of faces or the most trivial of objects prove to be a cradle of beauty...unleashing new meanings when looked at again and again. The true magic of photography lies in the fact that we can capture the fleeting moments to revisit them...to listen to the music that the image resounds... Onophotopoeia...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sentinels of the south...

Every national park in the southwest has a distinct flavor of its own. Zion is no exception.

Zion National Park is a celebrated destination for southern Utah tourists. A few hours drive from the Grand Canyon North Rim, it can actually be covered in a day unless you are planning to take the hikes along the trails. If you are driving in to Zion from the North Rim, you have to take a route through the park which is hailed as one of the most scenic drives of America. The route also passes through a couple of tunnels bored into the solid rocks. Emerging out of the tunnel, you are encompassed by the overwhelming presence of sky high cliffs all around. The steep cliffs characterize the unique beauty of Zion. The road meanders through the mile high stone sentinels to the visitor center from where the tour begins.

Unlike the Grand Canyon, you cannot drive to the different trailheads and other spots of interest. There are shuttles operated by the National Park authorities that take you around. The scenery is breathtaking and overwhelming. The cliffs move close to each other as you go deeper into the park and finally culminates into a slot canyon. The last part is an optional hike where you have to wade through chest deep water.

Due to time constraints, we could not take the trail that leads to the Emerald Pond. From the abundant photographs of Zion, that appears to be the most breathtaking spot where the cliffs are reflected on clear water. Not being able to go there is a regret I am still carrying and will be the primary reason of my paying heed to the call of Zion in future. Till then...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dangerous curves...

It really is amazing to see what the Colorado river has done to the Southwest. This great river, along with its tributaries, have created such myriad landforms all over the place that at times you feel that you cannot really manage to see it all! Some of its creations are not yet popularized, yet evoke the utmost sense of awe when visited.

It is by a matter of chance, I had the oppurtunity to see the Horseshoe Bend. Travelling from the Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, we noticed an unassuming arrow by the highway pointing towards a certain Horseshoe Bend. All that could be seen from the road was a seemingly endless stretch of desert peppered with thorny bushes and cacti. With the outside temperature raging at 120's, it did not seem to be a trip worth taking.

Yet, we did go.... It was around a mile walk from the unpaved spot that serves as a parking lot. However, the hot sand and the scorching winds made it look more like 5! At the end of the day, we were thankful that we did. At the end of the trail, the flat desert suddenly gives way to a 1000 feet drop to the Colorado bed. The gorge seemingly pops out of nowhere, adding to the charm and mysticism of the place. There are no signs or railings to warn the approaching visitor of what lies ahead and a sense of chill down the spine is almost inevitable when you suddenly discover the gorge a few feet away. And then it starts to sink in....

Its one of the best meanders that you could ever hope to see. The Colorado makes a perfect U turn at this place while flowing between Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon. The refreshing green waters of the river creates a welcome contrast to the unyielding stretches of saffron rocks all around. With practically no tourists around to disturb our bliss, we discovered the silver lining part of visiting the place on one of the hottest days of an Arizona summer.

This is the best that I could capture with my wide-angle lens. Would have loved to capture the complete bend, but the rocks at the edge being overhanging ones, I might not have lived to tell the story! Another must visit if you visit the Grand Canyon area. Beware of dehydration on summer days. We could simply have evaporated had the liter of Gatorade not saved the day!

Friday, August 04, 2006

True colors shining through

Finally a post after quite some time. The reason for my long absence was an unforgettable trip to the wild west a glimpse of which can be found in the photograph.

Antelope Canyon is a highly under-rated and less frequented place tucked away in a small corner of Arizona. Overwhelmed by the presence of the Grand Canyon in the vicinity, this pristine spot near Page, AZ attracts far less attention than it deserves. In geographical lingo, Antelope Canyon is a "slot canyon", carved through solid rock by the gushing waters of the flash floods that carry the rains of the Navajo valley to Lake Powell.

This place is a photographers' paradise.

Accessible only by dirt roads deep inside the Navajo (pronounced NavaHo) reservation for native Americans, Antelope Canyon offers the trip of a life time. No one is allowed without authorized guides who can be found in nearby Page. Antelope Canyon tours last for just over an hour at the most, but I assure you, you will come back with images that you will cherish for a long time to come. If you visit the canyon relatively early on a clear day, you experience the magical beauty of sunbeams falling on the canyon floor through a few small openings. This shot captures only a small part of the ethereal beauty and ambience it creates.

If you are ever in the area, I stongly suggest you to brave the heat and the $28 per person cost to visit the Antelope Canyons. You won't regret it. However, never go there if a thunderstorm is in the vicinity. Thunderstorms cause the flash floods that are responsible for the exquisite landforms. They can also kill anyone coming in their way... 11 tourists died in such a flashflood in 1997. However, with the competent native American tour guides, another such incident seems very unlikely as the canyon is closed down on the risky days.