July 14, 2012

The San Juan at Goosenecks

Virgin River with D800E

East of Monument Valley just past Mexican Hat, a side diversion of a few miles lands you at Goosenecks State Park. Here the San Juan River lazily meanders its way through the Desert Southwest completing a number of 180 degree turns in a very short distance.

I spent the evening of the 4th of July photographing at Goosenecks and, as it got dark, the hope for possible thunderstorms prompted the decision to spend the night there in the back camper of my truck. Distant flashes held promise but their persistence in almost identical position made me realize they were just fireworks. I fell asleep to a gentle wind that turned to a howling gale around 3 am shaking the truck so hard I awoke thinking there was an earthquake. The wind was followed by a 15 minute rain and then everything calmed down again.

I woke to calm cloudy skies and dampened earth that helped give some definition to the striated rock along the ledges leading down to the river. My favorite photograph is shown here with the sedimentary layers paralleling the lovely winding flow of the river 1,000 feet below.

The D800E and my 18 year old 35-70mm 2.8 Nikkor lens are getting along quite well together. A 16 x 20 print off my Epson 4880 is wickedly sharp and I find I can actually back off the level of sharpening I'm used to as part of my digital printing workflow.


My object has always been to get as close to the real thing as possible — people animals and country. The melodramatic Wild West idea is not for me the big possibility. The more lasting qualities are in the quiet and more broadly human aspects of Western life.

Maynard Dixon