Canyon of the Rio Grande
New Mexico

Canyon of the Rio Grande

20×24 prints are $1,500
30×40 prints are $3,000

When returning home from a major photographic trip in 1994, Ruth and I passed through New Mexico. The weather was quite unusual for this part of the country—it had rained steadily for the previous three days and the weather was turning quite cold.

A storm front was moving in, the temperature had dropped to below freezing, the wind was blowing, the sky was cloudy, and the sun was getting low in the sky, just before dusk. I walked onto the high bridge which crosses over the river and after surveying the scene, ran back to the car to get the equipment. With the unusual lighting and the fresh quality of the foliage and river, from the recent rains, I was excited by the possibilities and potentials for a worthwhile image.

In order to compose the photograph, I set up the camera so that it was hanging well over the rail of the bridge. Standing on two stacked camera cases, I carefully focused the image on the ground glass. Ruth stood behind me, holding onto my belt and pants with both hands—it was over 700’ to the river below! In this sort of situation, one moves slowly and deliberately, carefully making each move precisely and calmly—even when excited by the scene and working quickly to avoid missing the light.

After composing the image and very carefully checking the focus, I stopped the lens down and prepared to expose the film. I had to wait 20 minutes or so for the right conditions—the gusty wind was blowing the bridge, causing everything to sway back and forth. After each gust, I would wait for about 40 seconds for the bridge to settle down—but compounding the problem were the cars and trucks which would cross the bridge, setting up more vibration and motion.

Eventually, a short lull in both the gusts of the wind and the traffic came together at the same time, and I was able to expose the film. Wanting to be sure of the sharpness of the exposure, I repeated the whole waiting procedure a second time and exposed a second piece of film. After completing the exposures, Ruth and I hurried off the bridge with the equipment and proceeded to warm ourselves up in the van, as we puttered down the road to find a place to camp for the night. That evening it snowed about ten inches and the next day we proceeded over an icy high mountain pass to photograph—but that‘s another story!

To me, this image is much more than a recording of the physical scene described above. The glowing, turquoise water knifing through the solid, steep and rocky canyon speaks to me of living water flowing forth from places unseen, bringing peace, life, and grace to our sometimes arid, parched and rocky lives.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: New Mexico
Reference key: crg