Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary


Southwestern Landscapes

Painted Desert, Arizona. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Painted Desert, Arizona, 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

This is the Painted Desert in Arizona, in the Southwestern US. The Painted Desert in northwestern Arizona was formed in the Triassic Period over 200 million years ago. The colors of the rock layers are due to substantial iron and manganese deposits. Overall, the Desert encompasses 7,500 square miles (almost 20,000 square kilometers). Much of this extraordinary landscape is now included within Navajo lands.

This image (shown here in a reduced resolution) is available for purchase as a fine print, framed, and ready for hanging. Numerous sizes are available with framing included. Framed photographic prints make great holiday season gifts. Contact me if you are interested.

Landscapes of he American SouthwestThe Painted Desert is one of the locations featured in Landscapes of the American Southwest, a book of mine exploring the mountains, canyons and deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The book features 85 of my photographs on 100 pages along with additional text, printed on high quality paper. Both hardcover and softcover versions are available, as are ebook and Apple iBook versions. For a limited time, if you use the code CYBER20, you can get a 20% discount.

Click through to view a preview of Landscapes of the American Southwest or to order your copies.

Note: A number of images included in Landscapes of the American Southwest are also available as framed prints. Contact me if interested.


Mohave Desert

Mohave Desert 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Mohave Desert 2012. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Continuing in the landscape vein… This image is recently edited and reprocessed to black-and-white from an image in the earlier “Desert Series.” Rather than the bleak and lifeless expanse the desert is often depicted as, I find the high desert to be a scene of uncommon beauty and abundant life. In particular, the desert teems with a spiritual life that speaks of both power and intimacy, depth and meaning. The air – more sharp, crisp, and clear than anywhere else on the planet save the high mountain range – envelopes all in a benevolent life-giving spirit that belies the apparent harshness of the desert environment. This scene in the Mohave Desert is in southeastern California. (Click image for larger.)


Arizona Badlands

Arizona Badlands. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 800. 1/900 sec at f/13. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

South of the Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona lies the Petrified Forest and the Arizona Badlands. (This first image appears in Landscapes of the American South.) These scenes look a little bit to me like I would imagine the surface of another planet or perhaps the moon. But it is indeed terrestrial, located in Arizona. (Click image for larger.)

Arizona Badlands 2. Nikon D200. 12-24mm Nikkor f/4, at 16mm. ISO 800. 1/8000 sec at f/4. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

I was struck, visiting these lands, with the extreme quietness. The wind is a constant; once you get used to the wind, there are no other sounds, only a deep and lifeless silence which in turn renders an intense solitude. Upon a moment’s reflection, it becomes a solitude of oneness with the earth.  (A color version of the third image has been posted here before.)

Arizona Badlands 4. Nikon D200. 12-24mm Nikkor f/4, at 14mm. ISO 800. 1/8000 sec at f/4. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

According to Wikipedia, “A badlands (also badland) is a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water.” The name is apt. Early Lakota Indians called such lands “Makhóšiča“, literally bad land, while French trappers called it “les mauvaises terres à traverser” – “the bad lands to cross”. The Spanish called it tierra baldía(“waste land”).  These images and the idea of badlands also bring to mind T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.”


Landscapes of the American Southwest

Painted Desert Panorama. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Images of the Painted Desert in Arizona, including versions of this panoramic image, have been posted here but not this one. This particular image is included in the book, Landscapes of the American Southwest. (Click for larger image.) The area pictured above is also noted for being an especially rich area for dinosaur finds. Millions of years ago this desert was fertile swampland and forest.

[If you’ve thought about buying a copy of Landscapes of the American Southwest, print-on-demand from Blurb, now is the time to do it. With the promo code DADTASTIC at checkout, you save an additional 20% – a total of 30% off the original prices. Landscapes of the American Southwest is 100 pages of pictures of the beautiful American Southwest – The canyons, the deserts, the mountains, in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. The Painted Desert, most of which is on Navajo lands, is in Arizona. Landscapes of the American Southwest is available in softcover, hardcover, and ebook for iPad and iPhone.]


Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 24mm (Equiv 36mm). ISO 200. 1/180 sec at f/13. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

To take a break from florals, here’s a landscape. This is an image from the fall’s visit to Joshua Tree N.P. in California that I have reprocessed for black-and-white.


Desert Road

Desert Road. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 800. 1/950 sec at f/14. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Here is an image from the Southwestern desert series. This was shot in open range country in north central Arizona north of Snowflake. I’m surprised to find I haven’t posted this one yet. Count me as strange, but I find this country, in its somewhat alien loneliness, oddly welcoming and inviting. The challenge of the open road in the west has always been a distinctly American conception (though I doubt that it’s fair to limit it that way), an invitation to adventure into the unknown without limits or boundaries.

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