The American Southwest experience

08 Oct The American Southwest experience

When I was 18 years old I discovered photography, and with it, Ansel Adams. Since then I dreamed of traveling to the places where the great master made his famous photographs, those that made history, and that left a deep mark on my youth .

But this trip was not going to be just to Yosemite, where Ansel Adams did most of his work. He traveled from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, exploring different landscapes – Death Valley, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest , Mono Lake, Red Rock Canyon, etc.

Since the location of our arrival was Las Vegas, the city of gambling and excess, we could not resist spending a couple of days exploring its tumultuous streets. Full of lights and big screens, with its iconic hotels and buildings, formed an ideal scenario for various timelapses.

Although it might seem that Las Vegas is just a bustling city, it actually also has spectacular landscapes just near by. The Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire are good examples. Places that made us feel that we were entering the American West.

We spent the next day in the huge Death Valley – deepest, dryest and hottest place in the United States. The temperature was about 40 degrees in late September and the harsh light didn’t allow us to take pictures. Fortunately we were able to capture the place during the sunset and sunrise.

While its emptiness and endless landscapes motivated our imagination the extreme light and heat nullified any attempt to get it on our memory cards.
A sunset from Zabriskie Point became the best shot of the day.

The following days were spent at the foot of Sierra Nevada, exploring genuine towns of the American West. Bishop or —-, which we used as a base camp between excursions to our true destinations – Mono Lake and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest .

Mono Lake is a saline lake that formed more than 760,000 years ago. Due to its alkaline composition and the reception of fresh water it generates impressive limestone formations, which are visible when its water level reduces.

Very near Mono Lake there is another great landscape for photographers and timelapsers – the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. An ancient pine fores with pines almost 5,000 years old, which have defied time and weather conditions at more than 3,000 m above sea level, right in front of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The sunsets at this altitude were a delight. But it was the night-time that impressed us the most with the amazing moonlight.

Finally, after several days traveling across dry, hot and arid landscapes, we arrived to the highlight of our trip. By using the Tioga Pass we arrived to the Yosemite National Park where one of my dreams became true – photographing “El Capitan”, the huge granite rock that has such a strong meaning for both climbers and photographers.

The huge city of Los Angeles was the final destination of our trip, providing numerous opportunities for cityscape photography, such as endless views from “The Griffith Observatory” or futuristic buildings in downtown area.

No doubt this trip through the American Southwest has been the most rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. There is nothing like traveling that motivates nature photographer’s creativity and helps to feel more connected to it.

I think the adventure would have never been complete if not shared. Being surrounded by good friends along the way has been invaluable. And sharing the results with you all is what really gives meaning to my work.

Enrique Pacheco.