Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Canyon Walls

Neon Canyon.  Grand Staircase - Escalante. 
(Click images to view larger--best viewed large)

There’s an appeal in the relentless march of entropy—objects in nature decay and fall into patterns that are random and beautiful.  To me, this is especially apparent in arid places, because with more water comes a tangle of plants that is too complicated for me to sort into compositions after 30+ years of squinting through a viewfinder at the arid West.  

Eliot Porter, who masterfully photographed desert landscapes and wetter places, said:
 Much is missed if we have eyes only for the bright colors. Nature should be viewed without distinction… She makes no choice herself; everything that happens has equal significance. Nothing can be dispensed with. This is a common mistake that many people make: They think that half of nature can be destroyed — the uncomfortable half — while still retaining the acceptable and the pleasing side.” (Eliot Porter) 
I think that part of what he is saying is that patterns in nature are perfect because they are both random and inevitable (and stop screwing them up!). 

Over the years I've tried, and often failed, to capture the perfect random patterns in sandstone walls while wandering in Utah canyons.  My mind is on the desert this week as I prepare to head to the Grand Canyon on Friday for my spring canyoneering trip, so I’m resurrecting my woefully inactive blog with images of canyon walls.

Natural Bridges National Monument.

The Golden Cathedral.  Neon Canyon.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Harris Wash.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

West Fork Big Spring Canyon.  High Roost.

High Spur Canyon.  High Roost.

Hurricane Wash.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Coyote Gulch.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Coyote Gulch.

Coyote Gulch.

Silver Falls Creek.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Harris Wash.

Echo Canyon.  Zion National Park.

Echo Canyon.

Echo Canyon.

Pine Creek.  Zion National Park.

The Golden Cathedral -- Ceiling.

Along Escalante River near Choprock Canyon.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Kane Gulch.  Cedar Mesa.

Peek-a-boo Canyon. Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Neon Canyon.

Willow Gulch.  Grand Staircase - Escalante.

Willow Gulch.


  1. Great photos, Ken. I'm especially intrigued by the ones from Kane and Peekaboo ... still thinking about why.

    1. Thanks Hollis. I'm just back from a week of canyoneering in the Grand Canyon (Little Colorado) and the Mogollon Rim. Fantastic down there. I'll try to post some images this week.

  2. You certainly have succeeded at capturing the random patterns and inherent beauty of these canyon walls. I particularly enjoy the "tiger stripes" of your image from Neon Canyon. In fact, all of these images have an especially tactile feel to them, and are perfectly composed and presented. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Michael. I really appreciate the kind words!