One of my favorite photographs.

by jameswalk

This is one of my favorite photographs I’ve ever taken and we still have a few copies of this limited edition print available here:

Here are some field notes on the creation of this image:

…..our silver pickup stirred clouds of New Mexican dust as we navigated the narrow dirt road through the expansive landscape heading west with little knowledge of our next destination, hungry for adventures and picture making opportunities.  We hadn’t seen a major highway or even many paved roads for days and had had more interaction with wildlife than humans.  This was my first time on a southwest photo safari and I trusted the advice of my colleague, best friend, and fellow adventurer when it came to navigating this epic landscape.  We had a rough itinerary mapped out but it’s always the unexpected opportunities that we would find ourselves looking forward to.  The landscape went sliding by like a silent picture show and our weary paper road map rested on my lap as I tried to figure out whether this “road”, like many of the others, actually existed.  I can’t quite recall who was the first to spot this tree presenting itself stentorian on the vast barren tundra but I know we were both in agreement that it beckoned investigation.  We turned off the road and headed in the direction of this arboreal wonder.  As we approached this lone tree there was a calm wind drifting across the Plains of San Augustin and a surreal sense of discovery as if the saint himself were present. I unpacked the vintage 4×5 Graflex camera and went to work….

I’ve never been much of a landscape photographer for no particular reason other than I generally prefer the challenge of photographing people and animals and action, but there is something inherently exacting in photographing nature and especially in making a simple photograph that resonates the same way an image of a complex multi layered decisive moment might.  Pairing down the elements and creating something simple is often very difficult.

This image was created using an old Crown Graphic 4×5 camera and black and white Type 55 Polaroid film. The “art sauce”, i.e. dust and scratches, smudges, tonal variations, and even a stray fingerprint were not created digitally, they are all native to the process of developing this type of film in the field. The final image was cropped from a rectangle to a square, that is the only digital aspect of this otherwise analog creation.

I’m drawn to the simple balance of this photo and the ethereal quality of the landscape. And even though I have fond memories of the adventures leading up to creating this image I still feel it stands alone regardless of the nostalgia.

Thanks for looking!