Rebecca Wilks

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

Monday, December 26, 2022

Monthly Favorites 2022

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah

Through the years, this little exercise has allowed me to immerse myself in the year's memories and to consider  opportunities for gratitude.  There are many.

Moonrise over Watson Lake.  Prescott,  Arizona


I love to chase the full moon, especially the moon set in the morning. There's a good deal of research and preparation involved in this game, but it doesn't always work out.  I was concerned about the clouds this morning at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona, but they made the image more interesting.

Pre-launch, Alamo Lake Arizona


Arizona Highways Magazine put out a call for images of Arizona State Parks early in the year.  I had not spent much time at Alamo Lake State Park yet, and really enjoyed a handful of trips there to camp and shoot.  One morning I rigged up my folding kayak and launched before sunrise.  In February. Below freezing. The "real" shots were lovely, but I love the sense of anticipation in this one.  My feet were numb for at least an hour despite the neoprene socks.

Long Drink, Marana, Arizona


Another lovely trip to the Desert Photo Retreat in Marana Arizona.  There's a whole post on this trip, but here I submit a favorite; reflections, eye contact, behavior, color, and interest in a common critter.  I love doing this trip with my friend Kim, and we'll be back in 2023.

Trio, Along the San Juan River, New Mexico


So begins the photography trips which include fishing.  Honestly I didn't expect too much, as winter still had its hold on the San Juan River Valley in Northern New Mexico.  Besides, I was trying to keep the dog out of the fishermen's way.  This little layered tableau was a lovely bonus.

Classic Grand Canyon View

Dory in Lava Falls, Grand Canyon


Grand Canyon river trip #9. That'll teach me.  High winds, infectious diseases, and an old, creaky body that doesn't bear up well to comparisons with its status at 21 years old when I took the first of these trips.  Of course we managed to have a good time anyway.  It's tough to choose one from two weeks of immersion (sometimes literally) in the Colorado River. So, I submit a couple.  A classic river view in late light and one of our trip leader rowing the elegant dory through the infamous Lava Falls.

Angler in Mogollon Rim Country, Arizona


Fishing and photography.  We've been working together these days; I'm photographing custom flyrods ( and also shooting the angler in action.  I'm also discovering places I might not have otherwise found, most of which have running water (See July).  Here Marco is casting at East Clear Creek in Arizona.

Summer on the Upper Provo River, Utah


The upper Provo River, Utah.  There are also fish here.

Blue Ridge Reservoir, Arizona


A cold morning on Blue Ridge Reservoir.  Solitude, Osprey, fog.  That's a memory for sure.

Predawn Grand Canyon 


The best-laid plans. The Grand Canyon's South Rim is pretty crowded much of the time.  I generally only go when I have a good reason.  I'd hoped to catch some of the Plein Air painting during the Celebration of Art.  I'd even made plans to meet an artist I particularly admire.  No luck with any of that, but sunrise at Desert View was worth the price of admission.

Morning Moonset, Fish Lake, Utah


Another tough choice, given an epic, 2-week road trip through northern Arizona and Southern Utah.  This is the winner; taken in the Pando Grove of aspens near Fish Lake Utah.

Foggy Morning on Caddo Lake, Texas

Dramatic light at the end of the tree tunnel, Caddo Lake, Texas


This was my first adventure in the great Cypress Swamps called Caddo Lake Texas.  Yeah.

Electric Light, Mojave National Preserve, CA


There was a lot to choose from this month, including 7 days on the road at solstice.  There was subtle light, too, but I thought I'd go out this year with a bang.  

Cheers to y'all readers.  See you next year!

Sunday, December 25, 2022



Winter Solstice is traditionally a time to slow down, take stock of the year, and celebrate the return of (and to) the light.  All this quiet contemplation is no hardship for introverts like me.  We don’t do much for Christmas at our house, but these road trips have become a relaxed, joyful tradition.  We go to the desert (might as well be warm-ish) and revisit old favorite locations while discovering new spots.

 There’s a rhythm to these trips.  Morning walkabout and shoot, breakfast (I do love my breakfast burritos), pack, drive/explore/relocate, make camp, walking (or hiking) happy hour, read, download images, nap, evening walkabout and shoot, dinner, read or play cards. Simple, meditative, intimate.


Long view from Mid Hills Campground, Mojave National Preserve

This time of year serves in another way; there’s hardly anyone out there.  We don’t have to look too hard for solitude.  We expect to be alone when “boondocking” outside of campgrounds, but we actually also had a favorite campground entirely to ourselves. 


The Raven and Gypsy in Sawtooth Canyon, CA

We’re not really in a primitive camping situation; we love our phone booster, hand-held radios, and recently installed Sirius XM Radio (for drive time.)  Our oversized shoebox (the black Sprinter we call The Raven) is small but we have everything we need.

Further evidence against deprivation was our gas stop in Barstow.  My husband got ice cream and I picked up a Twix. And a bag of bugles.  Don’t judge; we do a lot of walking.  Barstow is an odd town.  I can’t drive through without thinking of Hunter S. Thompson’s line from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

Nothing too hard-core.  We’ve been trying out micro-dose psilocybin for creativity and focus.  That’s a story for another post.


Morning light on the Mojave Riverbed

Afton Canyon, at roughly the western edge of the Mojave Road, had long been on my list.  I loved tromping around the Mojave riverbed and carefully checking out a lovely old railroad bridge.  The light was something, too.


Electric sunset in the Joshua Tree Forest, Mojave National Preserve

In the Mojave preserve, we turned up an unknown road and ended up alone in the Joshua Tree Forest for a sunset which knocked our socks off.


Dunes in the California Desert

Marco can hardly ever be talked into a layover (two nights in the same place), but I managed at the dunes.  There’s something genuinely magical about dawn and dusk on sand dunes. 


Oh, and Gypsy hung with us.

 There’s more in the Winter 2022-23 Gallery on the website.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

'Tis The Season


"The Raven" watching the sunset

It’s getting cold here in the mountains; temps are often in the low 20s overnight with highs in the low 50s. I’ll happily deal with that if there’s fresh snow (soon I hope) but otherwise I love to camp and shoot in the desert where temps are 15-20 degrees warmer. Welcome to desert camping season.


Maricopa Mountains Sunrise

Last week we were on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land around the Maricopa Mountains.  The weather was so lovely that I wore short sleeves one day.  BLM is great for loose rules about dispersed camping and dogs.  Gypsy approves, and this trip she returned from her explorations nicely smelling of creosote.  I’ve certainly smelled worse on her.


Gypsy, ever vigilant

I’ve been teaching Gypsy a command that our last dog, Luna eventually mastered.  When I say “tripod,” she knows she’s meant to stay behind me so she’s out of the shot and doesn’t leave footprints in snow or sand.  I’m convinced that she understands, but sometimes she just knows better.  In this case she really did.  I’ll add this image to a growing collection of backlighted Gypsy pictures – the best way to shoot a black beast.



The Harquahala Mountains have become a nearby favorite in the last few seasons, but G and my husband had never been there.  This was also the dog’s first real experience with “jumping” cholla.  They don’t actually jump, of course, but they do a good impression of a wild leap toward anything that moves.  They are lovely with backlight. Just after arriving at our campsite, we followed her around, explaining the danger.  There wasn’t much effect.  Good judgement, they say, comes from experience and experience in turn from bad judgment.  She did eventually learn, the hard way.  We carried a comb and needle-nosed pliers in our pockets…


Evening Moonrise over the Harquahala Mountains

This shot was about as unplanned as they get.  The moon was one day past full when it rose that evening, and I went dashing down the hill in my crocs (I have dubbed them the ugly shoes) to grab this shot.  Speaking of cholla.


Verde Canyon Railroad crawling alongside the river

Though not technically desert, we did lose a bit of altitude and gain some temperature on a little outing the week before.  The confluence of Sycamore creek with the Verde River was showing just the last bit of autumn color (gotta get there earlier next year).  Marco fished, and I spent most of my time on landscapes, but also had fun with the Verde Canyon Railroad, nicely visible from the bluff above.


Sycamore Creek

We landscape photographers welcome gifts of all kinds, and this morning the blessing was cold air, which brough fog over Sycamore Creek.  This one was worth getting the boots wet for.


Desert Camping season is just getting started – check out the Winter 2022-23 Gallery on the website for more images from this trip and for what’s next.