alan little’s weblog

one that got away

23rd August 2005 permanent link

But before I go, a cheeky re-post of an old piece from 2001 that I found whilst looking round the dusty attics of my pre-blog photography pages.

Imagine a photograph. A low hill in the New Mexico desert. Sagebrush under a black stormcloud sky. A red dirt road runs up diagonally leftward from the bottom right of the frame. At the top of the hill, a windmill glows against the black sky, pinpointed by the last gleam of the sun before the storm closes in.

I thought “wow, look at that” and didn’t stop. Two days before it had dumped a metre of snow in one night – Easter Sunday 1999, and the biggest snowfall of the year according to the locals I talked to. Driving my rented four wheel drive across the Jemez mountains west of Santa Fe the day after the blizzard was great fun – starting in the morning, with the whole day to get myself out, or hope for somebody to come by, if I got stuck. But this time it was five in the afternoon, I had thirty miles of dirt road to go before I got to the highway, then another fifty to the next small town and motel. I wanted to stop and get the camera out but I told myself not to take a stupid risk for the sake of a picture. By the time I reached what passes for civilization in northwestern New Mexico it had been snowing hard for ten miles.

Ansel would have screeched to a halt anyway, set up his tripod and eight by ten view camera in two minutes, and produced another Moonrise, Hernandez. And either got caught out in the blizzard or not, but not cared too much either way.

Some of the ones you don’t get stick in the mind’s eye the most. Besides, it probably looks better there than I could have managed on film.

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