Putting this website together has reminded me of the reasons I photographed the canyons in the first place.
Stream and reflections, 25 Mile Canyon. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
It was a long hike, and this scene was unexpected, but in the solitude and natural quiet, I was receptive to its beauty. The interplay of reflected colors from the surrounding vegetation and canyon walls was fascinating and counterbalanced by the stark simplicity of the reeds in the shallow stream. Placing my tiny point-and-shoot camera on a small tripod, I was totally absorbed with composing the photograph until the light changed and the color faded.
The why of my photography.
This website may have just been created, but the photographs have been accumulating since the mid-80s—when I first traveled to southern Utah. Selecting individual images for each series awakened in me memories of the place and time each of them was made. Taken as a whole, this body of work helped me understand why I enjoy spending time photographing in the canyons.
Essentially, it boils down to a desire to find a certain simplicity—to be in a place of mental stillness—at least for a while. Being in nature helps me find that. If it’s a solo trip to a high desert canyon in southern Utah with nothing but natural sounds and minimal distractions, so much the better—especially if I feel safe.
“It boils down to a desire to find a certain simplicity—to be in a place of mental stillness—at least for a while.”
For me, photography—especially with the deliberate approach I take—narrows my focus and further eliminates mental distractions. While I can’t say that photographing nature achieves actual mental stillness, the combination of photography and nature reduces distractions to the point that I experience pretty much the same thing.
The benefits of being in nature.
A number of studies have convincingly shown that spending time in nature—especially in places that evoke a feeling of awe—bestow upon us an enhanced creativity as well as social, mental, and physical health benefits that endure well beyond the time spent there. In fact, even looking at photographs of nature produces a beneficial effect.
For those reasons, and others, we should all find places to be in nature—even if it’s our local park or garden. If you can’t get to the canyons of southern Utah, I hope you find some enjoyment in my photographs. Meanwhile, please do what you can to preserve them—and other wild natural places—so they will be there when you need them.
Reflections of young cottonwoods in pool, 50 Mile Canyon. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
The beginning of the narrows of 50 Mile Canyon, shown here, is quite a distance from the nearest road. The long route up a dry wash is strewn with large rocks, and requires attention to avoid turning an ankle. It was hard to casually look around and enjoy the beauty of the landscape. I was mentally and physically tired upon arriving here, but my time spent contemplating and photographing this scene was restorative,making the trip back much easier.