Rebecca Wilks

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Things You Hear


Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) Image at Moran Point, Grand Canyon

Folks from all over the world come to the Grand Canyon.  I’ve met (and eavesdropped on) some fascinating people.  Listening is such a fabulous window onto the rest of the world.

 A few days ago, I camped a couple of nights at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.  The plan was to meet an artist IRL that I’d been following on social media.  That didn’t work out, but a trip to the Canyon never disappoints. 

Fog from Grandview Point, Grand Canyon

On the day I arrived, a storm was breaking up, and there was delightful fog moving through the canyon like a time-lapsed amoeba.  These weather events seem to photographers to be a rare gift, but we always hear folks complaining about not seeing the canyon.  On one of these days a few years ago, I was warned by the ranger at the entrance kiosk that there were no refunds if I couldn’t see the canyon.  It’s a good thing I have a pass. 

Desert View Watchtower on a colorless evening, Grand Canyon

That night, waiting for sunset light that never quite arrived (good conditions for black & white) I saw parents with thick Jersey accents consoling their 5-year-old during his tantrum. He wanted to climb Desert View Watchtower, which has been closed for a couple of years.  Dad didn’t help much when he promised he’d take the boy to Las Vegas when he was 21.
Soft Morning and tree root, Desert View area, Grand Canyon

The next morning, I overheard some intense mansplaining about photography that I had to hear to believe.  This guy’s poor victim “learned” an awful lot about the craft that she’s going to have to unlearn.  As the saying goes, “often mistaken, never in doubt.”  Guy Tal (a fascinating philosopher about art) says that the answer a question about photography is often, “It depends.”  This nuanced sensibility appeals to me a bit more than run-of-the-mill mansplaining, thank you. 

Sunset at the secondary spot near Desert View, Grand Canyon

There’s a cool spot a short walk from Desert View Campground that I normally only share with the ravens.  I love ravens.  One afternoon there were a couple of guys there, and after one of them had a telephone conversation with his mom on speaker, he told his friend that what we were looking at was not actually the Grand Canyon.  Much as I wanted to ask, I refrained from determining what he thought it was.

There are some memorable moments from other trips, too.  One quiet winter day, a man with an Eastern European accent asked where the good view was.  Now, we were standing in front of the El Tovar Hotel.  Those of you who have been there know this is a pretty nice vista.  It turns out he was looking for the sky walk at Grand Canyon West, a four hour drive from there.  Sigh.

One of those sunsets, near El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon
I remember a day that sunset was absolutely spectacular, and I was working fast to capture what was sure to be ephemeral light.  A 20-year-old ask me to take her picture.  I told her “Sure, as soon as this light has finished,” she stomped off in a huff, looking for someone else to help.  Perhaps a selfie stick?

I love talking with Europeans.  I’ve had several conversations, especially with Germans and Brits, that tend to run along the lines of gun ownership and polygamy.  These are the baffling things my beloved Southwest is famous for, apparently.  I do try to put all that into perspective.

I speak English (some might disagree) and enough Spanish to get along.  I can’t imagine what I’d hear if I had command of a few more languages.

More from this last trip are in the Autumn 2022 Gallery on the website.  Thanks for riding along.

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