Rebecca Wilks

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

Monday, November 25, 2013


My husband, dog, and I spent the weekend in Yuma.  We were tempted to bail out because of the rainy weather, but we soldiered on.

On Sunday we did have the breathtaking morning ascension that the Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival is known for, but we had a few unplanned escapades along the way.

·         Our host had found a lovely spot for us to camp in the foothills, but he was concerned that we might not be able to cross the wash and thereby be trapped for the weekend, so we camped in their driveway.  No sweat except that the crop dusters, catching up for the weather, flew late into the night Saturday.  Did you know that they fly 20 feet off the ground?

·         Saturday’s launch was a bust.  The rain was about finished, but the wind and muddy launch field at West Wetlands Park discouraged the pilots from flying.  A few aircraft did launch.  Seeing life breathed into these 80-foot-tall constructions is a spectacular experience to be sure.  As a photographer, though, I have to say that the light stunk.  I knew the weather would be clearing overnight, so the camera stayed in the bag that morning.  No photos.  Yes, really.

·         So, now we’re looking for things to do on Saturday.  Our gracious hosts run a large farming operation in town.  We’d been hearing from them that dates are being grown more and more in the Yuma area.  I find the trees beautiful graphically, so we left the park and looked for photogenic date palm groves.  I loved the repeating patterns and the way that overcast weather lends itself to black and white work.

·         Saturday afternoon we set out in a borrowed jeep with our hosts (AKA adrenaline junkie 1; AJ1) and his brother, AJ2 in the Muggins Mountain Wilderness northeast of Yuma.  I did a fair amount of four-wheeling in my twenties, but I have gotten more conservative in my old age and was so grateful for the short wheelbase and the experienced company (particularly AJ2).  This was a tough road. We had four young kids with us, and I kept reassuring myself with the thought that the AJs would be motivated to bring them all back in one piece.  In the end we had lots of fun and everybody came out in good shape.

·        We all rushed directly from the mountains to the “Glow,” which is a nighttime display of tethered balloons, only to find that there were only a few burners going and no balloons.  My husband and I stood around for a while with Mr. & Mrs. AJ1 and their kids until we all realized that this might not be the party we had anticipated. We left with high hopes for the launch in the morning.  

But you already know how well that went, don’t you?

There’s more Yuma imagery on the website.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sharpening the Saw

Sunset Over Cathedral Rock
The older I get, it seems, the more severe my wanderlust.

Going to breathtaking places and translating the emotional experience to others with photographic images really floats my boat.

Sometimes, though, all that “doing” needs to be balanced with some thinking.  In Chinese medicine we talk about the equilibrium of the Yin (quiet, pensive, receptive) and the Yang (active, aggressive, energetic). Stephen Covey called this “sharpening the saw.”

Oak Creek Canyon
I’d generally rather be shooting, but I also recognize the value of nurturing the Yin.  I got to thinking about this last week, when I went with a friend to see Paul Nicklen (a prominent wildlife photographer and activist) speak in a lecture series called National Geographic Live. I found so much to be inspired by; his images, commitment to his values, work ethic (diving in the Antarctic??!?), and self-deprecating sense of humor.

There are plenty of other ways to pursue balance.  Good outdoor photographers are constantly learning new technical and philosophical concepts.  We do a huge amount of research about locations, weather, and lighting conditions.  The truth is that an awful lot of time “on a shoot” is spent waiting for conditions, a Yin pursuit.

Sometimes I’m impatient to get out there and DO IT, but all of this saw sharpening is indispensable for the creation of excellent images.

Slide Rock State Park
This topic doesn’t lend itself particularly well to illustration, but I’ve included some images form a recent trip to Sedona just because.

Check me out if you like at the Skyline Images website.