Today’s Post by Todd Abbotts
The unusual sound of a cold, driving rain pounding the side of our desert home was reason enough to stay in bed. The whistling of 25 mph wind through the roof vents put an exclamation point on the idea. Alas, I chose differently.
In any landscape composition, but especially in locations that we return to frequently, inclement weather offers a fleeting opportunity to see a familiar subject in a new way. Bright blue skies are fantastic for your tan lines, conversely theatrical, menacing clouds put the drama in our visual storytelling.
I was dwelling on the above truism as the razor-sharp desert wind searched out every gap in my clothing’s three-layer fortress and routed the warmth from all the sensitive places. As a reward, I managed a few mediocre images grabbed as the sun’s climbing rays snuck through passing down pours. Not willing to retreat to a warm home without a better photographic prize I drove to another pre-planned location. And another. At the fourth, I began to succumb to the possibility that a combination of skills and conditions might limit the morning’s efforts. But then, as the wind subsided for a few seconds I heard it. Standing among Yuccas and Joshua Trees the soothing purr of a non-existent waterfall is second only to the harps of angels. The mountains within Red Rock Canyon are bone-dry for 99.99% of the year, and a person could assume that the black water marks striping the rocks in some places are likely prehistoric. Three days of steady moisture had flipped on the desert’s little-used sprinkler system.
Searching out the sound was harder than it initially seemed. The waterfall was tucked inside a deep crevice in the mountain’s side and orientated away from the typical approach. It took a 2 mile hike through an arroyo to sneak up on the source. It was worth every step. Water that had collected over several square miles was forced by gravity through a narrow gap and funneled over a 100’ drop. Intermittent heavy showers granted only brief periods in which I felt safe pulling gear out of the camera pack, but by mid-morning I managed a few different compositions before I finally conceded to the weather.
Driving home, thoroughly soaked, I felt solidly reinforced that “bad” weather usually creates unique photographic possibilities.