Rebecca Wilks

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

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Challenge


East Clear Creek AZ Detail

I’ve gotta get a little creative sometimes with image making, an imperative which is never more true than with family travel with my husband the fly fisherman and my dog the over-cranked hurricane.

When we don’t land in the easiest-to-photograph pockets of landscape, I need to adjust.  One famous creative technique for artists is to impose limitations on ourselves.  A photographer might shoot all day with one lens, for example.  The challenge is healthy if sometimes a bit frustrating.

I’m just back from a trip to the X-Diamond Ranch near Eager Arizona.  That’s a town, not an adjective.  Some of you will remember that I’ve visited the Ranch several times, for a cowboy photography workshop, for hummingbird photography with some accomplished friends, and with my husband on a fishing trip (for him) once before.  X-Diamond is a lovely outpost.  It’s also a working cattle ranch, so the idyllic views are interrupted by man-made structures like fences and power lines.  The place is not strictly scenic.

Little Colorado River, Eager AZ

This image required (in my mind anyway) removal of power poles and wires in Photoshop.

Moon setting over the hay barn, X-Diamond Ranch AZ

Sometimes I just gave in and included some signs, and even the hay barn.

Pot Sherds, Little Bear Ruin, Eager AZ

There’s also an archaeology site on the ranch, called the Little Bear Ruin.  My favorite shots there were details like this pot sherd shot. 

Thistle Mandala, X-Diamond Ranch AZ

Details are great because they can be found about anywhere and light around them can be modified.

Casting in dramatic light, East Clear Creek AZ

Last week Marco and I made a trip to Mogollon Rim Country, east of here and in the forest.  We hung out near East Clear Creek.  There were some lovely scenes, but perhaps my favorite shot that day was Marco casting in the sun against the gorgeous, unlighted rocks.  I’m working on shooting fly-fishing and planning to contact some relevant magazines when I’m happy with it’s the portfolio.  I shot a lot of these, until I got the right light, shutter speed (that line moves fast) and a cast that he was happy with.

Speaking of the creative stimulus of a new challenge, I went to a polo match.  There’s something to be said for living in horse country.  Spoiler alert: I’m excited to check out team roping next season in Wickenburg.  Anyway, this was an outing arranged by a local photo club and took place at Van Dickson Ranch in Skull Valley.  What a lovely setting; this seemed to me a terrific opportunity.  Perhaps I was the only one; no one else showed up.

Polo, Skull Valley AZ

The challenge here was fast action and harsh light.  I suppose starting a match in gorgeous sunrise light would be unpopular with the players.  I brought out my giant wildlife lens and used a monopod for maneuverability.  The fast shutter speed shots were disappointing because light was harsh and backgrounds were busy and distracting.  I do like the panning shots like this one which shows motion and blurs the distracting background. The ponies with bright yellow leg wraps had particular impact.

Model Creek, Peeples Valley AZ (private property)

We’ve also made a few close-to-home camping trips to a friend’s property on Model Creek, here in the Weaver Mountains.  This is a tough place to shoot, too, but their labyrinth and pool area in the creek make nice subjects.

It’s been fun, but I must admit to looking forward to the first North Rim trip of the season; camping deep in the forest and making lovely traditional landscape images.

I’m looking forward to sharing those images soon.

There’s more in the Summer 2022 Gallery on the website.

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