Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Home is not an Address

Navajo Sandstone, Zion NP (4345)

I remember my first visit.  I stopped by the side of an empty rural road and turned off the engine.  I waited a few seconds, enjoying the silence and savoring the anticipation.  Before ever leaving the car, I knew how the sand would feel under my feet; I knew the gritty texture of slickrock; I knew the scents of pinon pine, sagebrush and juniper in the dry desert air.  I stepped out and into a world I had not been to before, yet which felt familiar and welcoming and more like home than anywhere I had ever been.  The feeling was one of returning after a long absence rather than discovering anew.

From “Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau”, by Guy Tal

I first “discovered” Guy Tal a couple of years ago.  I don’t remember exactly how I managed to stumble onto his website, but it was, and remains, a very pleasant experience.  If you happen to be reading this and have never heard of him or seen his work, you can find his website here (http://guytal.com/gtp/index.jsp).  If you can, take the time to view his photographic work.  More importantly, take the time to read his blog / journal.  Personally, I’m not sure which I enjoy more – his photographs or his writing.  Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.  Both are readily available.

I am, of course, more than just a little biased.  He is, to my way of thinking, living the dream.  Originally a native of Israel, he found his way to the United States, and eventually to the American southwest, settling in southern Utah in a small town near Capitol Reef NP.  We’ve been to Capitol Reef a few times and we’ve stayed at a small B and B type place near Torrey, Utah (Tal’s current home).  I can understand why he settled there.  Although there’s a National Park nearby, it’s a much quieter corner of Utah than a place like Springdale (a small town bordering Zion NP).  Capitol Reef just doesn’t get the same level of visitation as Zion.  It’s just as spectacular as Zion, I think, and it’s also near some amazing badlands.  Not to mention Utah’s Route 12, one of the most beautiful scenic roadways in the United States (in my opinion).

Tal, by the way, is not a photographer who produces a lot of “Grand Landscapes”.  As the title of the above e-book suggests, he tends to photograph landscapes that are more intimate, more reflective of how he sees and values the desert world around him.  If you’re looking for iconic images of the southwest, you won’t find them in his portfolios.  But if you’re looking for unique images of Utah’s badlands or of locations that are far removed from the “scenic drives” in or near national parks, you just might find them here.

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4 Responses to “Home is not an Address”

  1. TomDills

    I’ve also been a fan of Guy Tal for a few years, Paul. And I agree with your assessment. I think it is his attitude toward life as much as his writing and photographs that appeal to me. I’m not sure that his is a life I could live or would want to, but many of his philosophies resonate with me.

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, some of his accounts of camping in the “backcountry” are a little scary – especially to us east-coast guys. But I’d love to try it. Can you imagine waking up at dawn in a totally silent world? Nothing around you but desert and maybe a few coyotes? No cellphone coverage? It’s probably just a little bit different than how you and I live…….

      Reply
  2. themiddlegeneration

    I love the quote! I have never heard of Guy Tal. I will definitely look him up. I agree with your preference for Capitol Reef over Zion. I camped there over a decade ago for several nights. It is an amazing place. One day I’ll get back there. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy your photos.

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, the quote is a favorite of mine. When I first saw it I was amazed by the similarity between his experience and my own. My first real experience with high desert was in Zion NP about 10 years ago. It was a cold, damp, very still morning with some overnight snow looking like frosting on the red rock. The smell was intoxicating. As he says, it was like coming home. I’ll never forget it.

      We’ve only been back from our last trip to “Canyon Country” for a couple of weeks and I’m already getting that urge to return. I rarely drink and I don’t smoke, but this is an addiction that, for me, is much harder to deal with……..

      Reply

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