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I wish that I could say this image was the result of careful planning and expert knowledge of the area, but it wasn’t. This image was rather a serendipitous event, more the result of fortunate circumstance, chance and not giving in to the elements when it would have been so much easier to just stay home warm and dry.
After a long work week spent indoors, I was determined that I would get out, and hopefully do some photography. However, the weather was not cooperating. The weather report was for morning and afternoon showers, but I decided to chance it anyway. After all, I thought, in Arizona you can often see the storms develop from a distance so I felt confident that I could find some shelter and wait out any squall that might develop while I was out.
I loaded my camera gear in the car, and to be on the safe side I tossed in a poncho and umbrella. Driving over to Sedona I kept my eye on the sky. It seemed as if the clouds were building and thickening with each passing minute. I could see showers developing in a number of locations across the valley, yet I decided to press on hoping the weather would not spoil my plans to be out and taking photographs. Besides, I have often heard that the best shots are a result of being the right place at the beginning or end of a storm. So I pressed on with my plan.
As I neared Sedona, I decided to head to the iconic Cathedral Rock. I passed on the more traditional views, opting instead to scramble up a short, steep trail that connects with the main hiking trails at the very base of the formation on its eastern slope. Arriving at the intersection of the connecting trail with the main trails, I came upon this vista. I knew I was on to something. I liked the relationship of the yucca plant with its fading bloom with the prickly pear cactus in just beginning to bloom, and the piñon pine clinging to a crumbling shelf of enduring red rock in a diagonal juxtaposition with the main formation in the background. Lastly there was the stormy sky overhead. All that was needed now was the right light.
The scene before me was constantly changing. Every so often patches of diffused, dappled light brushed across the formations or the landscape in between creating kaleidoscope-like patterns of light and shadow. For a while the light would softly highlight the rock or the foreground, but not both. I snapped a few frames, but none of them spoke to me. I waited. Then it happened. For a fleeting moment patches of light fell upon both Cathedral Rock and the rock, tree and yucca plant in the foreground. When it did I quickly captured this image. Soon thereafter more thick, moisture laden clouds rolled in, extinguishing the light and flattening the contrast. I packed up, hurried down the trail trying to get to my car before the heavens opened up. Heading home, I was glad I took the chance. Had I not gone out I would never have seen this spectacular scene. Sometimes, you need to listen to Mother Nature when she whispers to you, “Come. I have something special to show you.”
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