More on Seeing

A number of years ago, after completing an assignment in L.A., I took a few days off and drove out past Palm Springs to Joshua Tree National Park, a magical place by any standards. Three ecoregions come together providing an unusual diversity of plant and animal life, to say nothing of its unique geology. In other words, it is a wonderland for any photographer. And yet the most memorable experience occurred when I left the camera in the car.

As I drove through what seemed to be the most inhospitable region of the low desert I stopped at a roadside marker. The desert surrounding it seemed to have all the life (or lack thereof) of a Martian landscape. The information plaque suggested walking five minutes in any direction and then sit quietly without moving. Only then would desert life open up to you. Too hard to imagine, I thought. This barrenness was unlike anything I had ever experienced. So of course I had to try this out.

I found a spot and sat. I was as quiet and still as some of the scraggily plants around me. And within minutes I heard a little noise here, a little movement there, a certain unique scent in the air. Before long the ground around me was absolutely full of life. I had “synced” with the local environment and had become as much a part of it as I was a viewer. What a view I now had! I could see things , many things, that I couldn’t have imagined only minutes before. Lesson learned.

What an epiphany that proved to be. Now whenever I start walking a dry streamed or find an interesting roadcut in search of fossils  I usually like to sit first, much like I did in that desert location, and take it all in, so to speak. Experience has suggested to me that I am far more likely to find interesting fossils (and interesting shooting opportunities) beginning this way. Sometimes they practically jump out at me!

Here are some little guys that jumped out at me yesterday:

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