Rebecca Wilks

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

Coloring Outside the Lines

Yucca Detail, Chiricahua National Monument AZ

What’s the point of a photo workshop, anyway?

There are lots of good answers to that question, but I propose that the opportunity to stretch my limits in a supportive environment is high on the list.

I’m just back from five days shooting in Southern Arizona with Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill.  This was a small group outing which was a perk offered as part of their Indiegogo campaign for the second edition of the Wild in Arizona Wildflower Photography Guide.  Four of us came together to plan this trip over a year ago.  Sadly, one could not make it so in the end we were a nimble, simpatico group of five.

We talked about several locations, and I favored this trip based out of Willcox because I’d not worked in Southeastern Arizona before.  As it turned out, we formed a culture of experimentation.  We shared ideas, supported each other, and “Stole Like an Artist.”  

As an aside, I highly recommend Austin Kleon’s book, who’s title I stole to make my point.  See how that works?

Forest Composite, Cave Creek Canyon AZ
As our hike was winding down in Cave Creek Canyon, we started talking about motion blur and multiple exposures.  Some of my compatriots were making these images in camera, but I decided to create the ingredients in the field and put the power of Adobe Photoshop’s Blend Modes to work on them.  The image above this paragraph is the result, and below the two blended shots.  Wild, no?  I think I’d like to go further down this rabbit hole.

By the way, the silly ”bobble head” group shot at the end of this post also arose from that session.

Backlight on the Ranch, Dragoon Mountain Foothills
Another day, in the foothills of the Dragoon Mountains, I found myself mostly uninspired until I stumbled on a stream of water overflowing from a cattle tank. The backlight really was golden like this. I got a little creative to play up the little splashes.  This image is composed of 4 exposures stacked in the camera.  Some of you may remember this technique from your film photography days.  Modern digital cameras will stack as many exposures together as you’d like, and will give you an average exposure so it’s delightfully easy.

Mud Cracks, Willcox Playa AZ
Finally, the mud cracks.  The delicious, perfectly formed examples of apparent randomness.  If I understood chaos theory I’d wax poetic about it now.  Lucky for you, I don’t.  Much.  I don’t usually love this sort of image but I do have a bit of a crush on these.  By the way, there’s a more conventional landscape image using the cracks as foreground on the website, with the others in the Autumn 2016 Gallery (new images added at the bottom of the page).

Thanks for peeking in my coloring book.


  1. Rebecca, as always your work amazes and inspires me. "Backlight on the Ranch" is a wonderful example of your work- such creative use of light in seemingly everyday, mundane things. Simply beautiful! Hope to continue shooting with you for many years to come, my friend!

  2. Thanks Dixie. I'm glad you liked it, and thrilled to travel and shoot with you whenever we can. We have a great tribe!