When I moved to Sedona over 21 years ago I began to see how this truly unique landscape has so many possible vantage points.
After my first year in Sedona I picked up a used Nikon FE2 that had been advertised on the bulletin board at a local laundromat. Hiking on trails to places like Devils Bridge and Vultee Arch, up Bear Mountain and Wilson Mountain, and up and down Oak Creek I found a variety of views to capture on 35mm color film to savor the beauty.
Anyone who remembers shooting film knows how working with slide film added up financially as you bought roll after roll, then paid a lab to process each roll. The unopened rolls of film were stored in the refrigerator, especially in summer—film was no good if it got too hot. Traveling on a road trip we had to store our film boxes in an ice chests to keep it cool.
With transparency film the narrow range of acceptable exposure was so critical. If you had bright white clouds and the film was just slightly overexposed, then you lost the shot. No going into Photoshop or a program like Lightroom and fixing it up. No sweetening the image with more contrast, sharper focus, more saturation, more this, or more that. What you captured was how it was printed in a magazine. A missed shot was dumped into the trash, kind of like throwing away handfuls of dollar bills.
After a few years I jumped into medium-format photography with a Pentax 67 camera. Focus was manual, depth of field critical, filters useful, and patience a must. The larger film size was more than four times the size of a Kodachrome color slide. Of course by then landscape photographers were shooting with the latest color film called Fuji Velvia.
Packing my newly purchased yet “previously owned” Pentax 67, I would load up two or three lens, each about the size of a small coffee can, add a bag of camera accessories, a half dozen rolls of film, and then strap on the tripod. The all-metal Pentax 67 weighed slightly less than a WWII Sherman tank.
In the film days we waited several hours after dropping off exposed film at the lab or a week if we mailed it in. That was a long time to wait to see your results. By then we had long ago left the scene hoping we had captured the amazing view we had hiked several miles to photograph. Many, many beautiful scenes, maybe 30,000 different views.
But times change and technology improves, and with the introduction of digital photography there has been a rapid expansion of creative possibilities. Now we can make panoramic photos with an iPhone, and shoot RAW format with a point-and-shoot like the claret cup cactus above shot with a Canon S100. We can also take photos of the Milky Way with an SLR camera, and share our photos with viewers across the globe.
Last year I posted a video on YouTube called “Secret Sedona-HD”. The visual presentation has some of my best Sedona photos from the last 20 years woven together with the engaging instrumental song “Where Rivers Meet” by the William Eaton Ensemble.
Since being posted viewers are leaving heart-felt comments. “Just takes your breath away. Wonderful video and music.”… “Beautiful photographs in a world class presentation.”… “Sooooo lovely! “… “Beautiful music- great clarity”… “Visually stunning and calming to the spirit.”
It has now been viewed by over 30,000 people worldwide. New technology has opened doors to share our photography beyond our wildest dreams. So, today I celebrate the invention of YouTube, the advances of photography, and the timeless natural beauty of Sedona. Thank you one and all, you have made life more interesting in so many ways.