Returning home after a photography trip can often feel a little dull. The adventure is nearly over, all the planning is behind you, and the initial excitement succumbs now to fatigue. The journey home leaves expectations low. Yet surprises do happen.
Leaving Monument Valley, and heading south on 160, a distant cloud flashed with tiny streaks of lightning. Bright, quickly strobing flashes pierced the center of one particular rain virga. Too far away for a good photo, we drove on, a sleep deprived photographer in the back seat beginning to nod off.
Coming up and over a rise near Tsegi, the road was suddenly all shiny and wet. We had just missed an isolated downpour. The nearby white cliffs displayed columns white water pouring over drop offs. I pulled over. We grabbed our cameras and caught the gushing waterfalls just minutes before they diminished to less than half the vigor that we first saw.
We loaded up and traveled onward, but this quickly moving thunderstorm had drenched a small herd of wild horses, spooking them into a full gallop. They ran as fast as they could along the fence dividing the highway from the wild land. As they raced beside us I wanted to photograph them, but how. Everything was happening so fast.
But I knew I had to get way in front of them to give myself time to get my camera out, make adjustments to the settings, and prepare to shoot. I drove ahead watching their pounding rhythm keeping them parallel to the highway. Finally, a pullout appeared where I quickly parked and went into action. Veering away from the roadside fence, the herd charged by us before I was ready. And all but the last horse raced by me.
I instinctively centered this fast moving, young horse in the frame of my viewfinder, and swung the lens in a panning motion to match his speed. A blur of flexing muscles swept by me as the shutter repeatedly fired. Just as quickly the moment was over. A strange silence settled in.
Walking back to the vehicle I was scrolling back through the series of shots. Nothing, nothing, and there it was. I found the keeper! The rain-soaked horse contrasted with sharp edges against the blurred background. But best of all, it was making serious eye contact with me!
The excitement gave us all an energy boost for the rest of the ride home. I love seeing the wild roaming horses of northern Arizona. The freedom of wide open spaces keeps their spirits alive. A lesson for us all!
Data: Canon 5D Mk III, 24-105mm lens at 75mm, f/10, 1/40 sec. exposure, 400 ISO, capture time 1:51 pm