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Barry Styles

Brooks, I love ya guy, but sometimes you just over think things. First, I think it's likely that whatever landscape you happen to be shooting was there long before they plopped roads (paved or otherwise) or visitor centers in the middle of it, so it's fair game no matter what. And that includes the fact that millions of tourists may have already created images from the very spot you're standing. In other words, if your eyes like what you see, shoot it. Nothing says you have to use it as art for your wall or you have to sell it. But it is still a personal memory you're saving.

Brooks Jensen

Barry, good point. I guess what had me thinking about this was a number of conversations I had with photographers about the area. "Go down this obscure road and there's some great stuff." "Get this map that has access roads that aren't listed in any other map." "Turn left, turn right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight fight." Advice always seems to point to the way out there magical spot. I don't recall anyone ever advising me to "go to the Visitor Center and use your creative eye," or "go to the large tourist overlook and wait for the right light." Maybe that advice is just too obvious so no one ever says it, but it does lend one to conclude that the really magical spots are ones that are hardest to get to. I love your comment about the landscape existing long before the roads. Excuse me while I slap my forehead. Doh! Thanks!

Jim Bullard

I think it was Edward Weston who said something to the effect that if it wasn't within 50 feet of your car, it wasn't worth photographing. That said, sometimes getting away from the usual viewpoints helps break trough the catalog of views that you've seen and registered in some corner of your mind and that new view allows you to really see the subject for itself instead of a cliche.

Joe Lipka

Well, ya know buddy, good photos can be found by just about anybody that pulls off to the side of the road and makes a quick happy snap or two. That Ansel guy made a pretty good snap when he pulled off the road near Hernandez, New Mexico on the way to cocktails one evening. And ya know, anytime you postpone that afternoon cocktail to make a snap or two probably means that the picture might just turn out to be good.

I've also heard that the parking lot north of the airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming might yield an interesting picture or two.

The world is filled with photographs, it's up to us photographers to know where to stand and when to press the shutter.


Weak article. This is not a new idea. Photographers have been writing about this concept in their books many times. This is just a rehashed idea on something old.

David Malarkey

Among other impulses, photography has two competing traditions: Star Trek – "To boldly go where no man has gone before." and William Blake –"To see a World in a grain of sand."
There is a long tradition, all the way to present day Google Earth, of using photography to show what an ordinary person would be unable to see by their own efforts. The scenery of American West was one such subject in the nineteenth century, and other photographers were busily recording the astonishing range of customs, buildings, costume and artefacts in the British Empire. Electron microscopy might be included in this category.
Despite the fine artistic quality of may of these images, the impulse was surely to make a record. Clearly, to take such pictures requires the photographer to "boldly go".
The "World in a grain of sand" approach invites the viewer to see new possibilities in objects that are already familiar. It may well be used by both viewer and photographer as a starting point for contemplation.
And now we come to the car park. It is here that these two approaches collide. On the one hand, the view is undoubtedly sublime (we hope and assume) but on the other hand it is already familiar. If it is photographed in the heroic Star Trek mode it will look like a cliché to experienced viewers and it may be a challenge to discover the William Blake shot. Some photographers have taken an ironic stance and shown the reality of the situation, complete with tourists, camper vans, vendors of fast food et al.
I find that there is an instant when viewing a photograph for the first time, when the unconscious makes up its mind about an image. If that image is Yosemite with Half Dome and the waterfall, this unconscious mind shouts "Ansel" and despite subsequent conscious rational thought, that impression remains.
It is to eliminate this first negative impression that the Star Trek photographer must boldly go further to seek out new scenes.
Of course, there's also the impulse to brag. "My ten-eight with a dozen slides, six lenses and a tent weight so much..." – "That's nothing, my eleven-fourteen wet plate with a folding darkroom and food for a year weighs so much more..." And on the William Blake side: "I took two hundred shots of a leaf/rock/teacup and this one is deep meaningful..."
This is normal human behaviour and not exclusive to photographers. Photographers are odd enough already.

   Terry McDonald

BTW - great shot, Brooks!

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