Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plan "B"

Ocotillo Wells
Marco and I were lying in bed, in the camper.  Neither of us wanted to look at our phones to check the time, but it seemed like this had been going on for hours.  The revving of dirt bikes and quads, the loud music and yelling, and the gunshots.  The first time I gave in and looked, it was around 2:00 AM. We tossed and turned, groused and grumbled until it finally stopped at 4:30.  Belated quiet at the Main Street Event Center in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area.

Our group, and "friends"
I don’t want to seem ungrateful.  The folks who make our mobile mansion, Four Wheel Campers, generously set up this rally, renting the facility and providing groovy tees, food, and wine.  We met some great folks during the afternoon and over dinner.   In all, there were about 35 vehicles.  Unfortunately, there were a whole lot of other folks, some of them drunk and rude on a colossal scale.

We hiked up the hill to the north before sunrise (because, who can sleep?), dodging dirt bikers (when do THEY sleep?) and enjoyed first light on what I’d come to call “Thunderdome.”  He and I and the dog agreed to leave the party a day early and find some peace.

The Slot and tiny moon
We had a nice hike in a slot canyon in the adjacent Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, creatively dubbed “The Slot.” The light was lovely, and more beige than the oranges we’re accustomed to in the Navajo Sandstone in Arizona.  We scouted some other spots, and decided to move on.

Kofa NWR
I’ve shot a handful of times in the last few years in the Kofa National Wildlife Preserve, south of Quartzsite, AZ.  Marco had never been there, and that, together with the likelihood of solitude and quiet in the spot I had in mind made it seem like the right choice.  Kofa Queen Canyon is not particularly well-known, and the road is just rough enough to discourage most campers but not bad enough to high-center Lurch.

Cactus skeleton detail in sweet light, Kofa NWR
The light was beautiful and the beers were cold.  Luna managed to stay out of the chollas. No regrets.

Plan “B” helped me reclaim my mojo after a month of being occupied with other work.

More images of this trip are in the Autumn 2017 Gallery on the website.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Love the One You’re With

I’m nearing the end of four weeks without any serious shooting.  I had some family things and some volunteer responsibilities and I’m getting pretty antsy. My last real expedition was to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim over a month ago.

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you, a sentiment not unlike Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.”  For many of us, that means the mobile phone.

Out the window on final approach to Midway.
Sometimes I can’t put my hand on the camera (like that unexpected out-the-commercial-airplane-window shot), or I deliberately didn’t bring it, like a day with harsh light or out for a walk or bike ride.  Sometimes I think a phone snap is good enough because I’m unlikely to want to sell it, though I’ve been wrong on that assumption.  Sometimes I’m just lazy.

It’s not the same as a real camera, at least not yet, but it’s serviceable in good light and its available.  Lately I’ve been keeping an e-journal with photos on the Diaro app and have found that the exercise sharpens my way of seeing and is a whole lot of fun.
Neighborhood Halloween spirit

On a walk at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix
Yarnell's Finest, Cornerstone Bakery
The bulk of what I played with this month popped up on walks.  My 12-year-old dog still insists that we go out every day.  We do an hour and she glares at me when I pause to shoot.

Clouds in Covington, KY (almost Ohio)
Eden Park, Cincinnati
In Ohio for the fundraiser, there were some remarkable scenes.

Spooky in the in-laws' backyard, Buffalo
Fire Escape, Buffalo
We were in Buffalo with family.  The area has remarkable contrasts between urban scenes and farmland.  I didn't notice until putting this post together that I've rendered Buffalo in Black and White.  Interesting.
A little Franciscan humor

Good advice from the Franciscans
Saint Francis himself
A Rotary International Grants Conference at the Franciscan Renewal Center here in Phoenix was busy enough to preclude any serious photography, though the place is full of potential.  I did fire off a few shots.

I know you’re concerned, so I’ll put your mind at ease.  My next road trip begins soon.  Stay tuned for the report!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Memorial Hall Nine Ways, "Blink" Cincinnati

Well, the main point was to go to “Fall Fiesta,” a fundraiser for Cooperative for Education.  I’ve written about COED in previous posts; the nonprofit is the engine behind the work we help with in Guatemala.

We had some time to spare, and it turns out that Southern Ohio is pretty interesting.

Music Hall and Luminarium.  "Blink" Cincinnati
Friday night, some local friends graciously showed us around the first annual “Blink,” a light show (though these words hardly encompass its scope) with installations all over metro Cincinnati.  It was an absolute zoo, but I did manage some photographs and had a great time.

Sunday my husband and I drove (and drove) East.  

Serpent's Mound
Serpent’s Mound is an ancient effigy; a snake sculpted from the earth about 2000 years ago.  The snake is 1300 feet long.  It’s a beautiful spot on a bluff.
Conkles Hollow
We had a lovely hike in Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve in gorgeous, filtered light.  

McClain High School
My Mom grew up in Greenfield Ohio, not too far from our trajectory, so we stopped to visit her (rather grand for a small town) alma mater, McClain High School.  The sign says, in part, “What’s in Greenfield? Well, principally there is the school.”
Eden Park View, Cincinnati

Downtown Library View
Our flight Monday was late in the day, so we explored Cincinnati a bit, with breakfast at Taste of Belgium, an exploration of Eden Park with its stellar views, and a stop at the downtown Library for the kind of browse that’s always fun and that we never seem to have time for at home.  Oh, and the view.

Chicago view, courtesy of Southwest Airlines
As if that wasn’t enough fun, there was a breathtaking view of Chicago at dusk on final approach to Midway.

My family thinks I can’t do cities, but I can.  I swear.

More images are in the Autumn 2017 Gallery on the website.