Last Rock from the Left
This is my favorite image from White Pocket, a section of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. The landscape here is incredibly diverse, with swirling lines of red, orange, pink and white creating a surreal, alien landscape. Accessing this location requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle with the tires aired down to 25 pounds and a reliable GPS navigation system. The drive to the one square mile pocket is 15 miles through deep sand so you must keep the pedal to the metal or you get stuck. And remember, there are no tow trucks in the desert.
A friend boasted that he’d found every composition there was to find, so I wandered throughout the day, exploring nooks and crannies, testing different perspectives, seeking something original to photograph. The clouds were beautiful all day, suggesting that sunset would be spectacular. I envisioned golden light illuminating the red rocks, so when I found a wild butte on a thin ridge facing west right before sunset, I set up my tripod and waited for the light.
Lightning flashed in the sky as an incoming storm materialized, the clouds thick and heavy to the east, the light tinged green. Suddenly a frenzied man raced across the brain rock below me, disappearing, then reappearing on the ridge behind me. He did his best to set up his tripod right beside mine, but after searching all day for this perfect composition, there was no way he was comp stomping me. I pushed him off of the ledge and watched him tumble down into the sand. No one saw me do that, so don't tell.
Next, as the setting sun lit up my rock, my friend walked over with his camera and tripod, paused, almost set up next to me, then went down into the sand to help the other guy. He knew better.