Flowering Yucca, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I’ve recently returned from a trip to the Southwest where I was fortunate to spend some time with my folks. They were very excited to see the iconic sights of the canyon country around Moab, Utah that I’ve previously photographed and enthusiastically discussed. The vistas they had witnessed over the course of a week exceeded their every expectation because it is one thing to experience the feel of a place conveyed by an artist and an entirely another to be able to cast one’s eye upon the sheer wide-open spaces and grandeur of the canyons, breathe the desert air and tread its barren soil. As photographers we cannot hope to fully channel such a deeply emotional experience, but yet we have to try our best to give the viewer the sense of the place we aim to capture.


We spent a windy evening observing the multi-layered ancient sandstone at one of the overlooks in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park light up red with the setting sun. As soon as the dramatic illumination faded,  I noticed that some clouds above a ridge to my right were turning deep orange. I began to quickly scramble for a suitable composition. After framing up yet another dead juniper tree and shaking my head in frustration, I finally stumbled upon several flowering Yucca shrubs. While adopting a lower perspective so as to emphasize the cream bell-like flowers of the Yucca baccata which lead the eye to the jagged cliff in the background, I increased the ISO as I waited for the wind gusts to quiet down so as to capture the flower stalks of the desert plant with maximal possible sharpness. I proceeded to fire off several bracketed shots that were subsequently manually blended in Photoshop into a single image which reflects my memory of this moment. My hope is that the natural rugged beauty of this intimate landscape invokes a feeling in the viewer that closely parallels the experience of standing at that exact spot.


All images are ©2012 Alex Filatov Photography. All rights reserved.

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