Lately it seems that my muse has either been overwhelmed
or just plain uninspired. I actually have been writing over these
past months, but most of the work has been on reworking entries
as I rebuild my website.
first I thought that rewriting would be simple, and some of it has
been, but then there were the entries that caused me to cringe and
grimace at that thought that someone might have actually read them.
The question that has come to mind from time to time is; So why
What has guided me through this process is the thought
that someday what I have written might be of interest to my children
and maybe even their children, who as of yet, are not even a gleam
in a parent's eye. (At least I hope not.)
So back to the issue of the "challenged"
muse. If you leave out the grind of daily life and the I went there
and I did that entry, what's to write about?
For some time I've had a couple of ideas floating
around in my head, images and all, and I think that it is time to
try and put them on paper. Often I stop at the side of the road
to take pictures, and some of those images and experiences have
been bottled up, some of them for years.
You never know what you will come across when you
pick up a camera and head out on the road.
Splashes of green against a rocky backdrop suggest
to me either California or perhaps a resort in Arizona. The reality
is that there are many places where this image could have come from,
contrasting cold lifeless stone and what appears to be a park.
years ago I had this image made into large print, but was always
disappointed in the quality of the image. The colors were washed
out, and it did not speak to me of the contrast I saw that morning
in the Sinai Desert.
The splash of greens belies the greater context of
the desert, the barren rock and cold stone. In this place life springs
forth from snows that occasionally grace the peaks of the surrounding
mountains. Over one thousand five hundred years ago The emperor
Justinian ordered that the St Catherine's Monastery be built on
what was purported to be the site of the "burning bush."
It's walls range from 20 to over 200 feet in height and it is surrounded
on two sides with gardens.
The trip to the oasis and the Monastery were one of
the final stops of a week long journey through the Sinai that I
made with a group of about 40 other students from the Hebrew University
in Jerusalem. (Snow
on the Sahara details one mis-adventure on the trip)
a fitful attempt to sleep on the bare desert floor sprinkled with
an early April snow, we rose before dawn so that we could watch
the sunrise from the summit of what is purported to be "Mt.
Sinai," the very summit from which Moses came down with the
ten commandments. Over the last thousand years a stairway of over
4,000 steps has been built by the monks to the top of the 7,500
ft peak and we descended those steps to the valley floor.
Our approach to the Monastery was one of start contrast,
from the barren cold slopes of the mountains to the warm morning
sun in a valley full of color and life. After hours of walking this
garden was the first sign of life we had seen in a desert land that
has been described as having a "Martian landscape."
As is often the case when traveling with a group there
is little time to compose and shoot. Frequently I have found myself
"at the end of the line" lagging the group so that I could
try and get just the right shot.
In 1999 a sister publication of the National Geographic,
National Geographic Adventure created a top 25 list
of adventure travel destinations. It is no wonder to me that a visit
to St. Catherine's made the group.
during that morning I wandered off from the group and framed a stand
of desert palms against the early morning sun.
Is it contrived, this image?
Is it truly representative of this place?
As the photographer, I am in control of composition
and therefore do I record, or do I manipulate, or both?
As the morning progressed I came back to the palms
but by this time the harsh light of the desert sun washed away the
drama of the early morning.
Gone were the deep shadows of dawn and the subtle
hues of green, as bright light has the effect of washing out color.
As I put together this piece I also went back and
updated my Sinai
Gallery with a host of images from the climb and the Monastary.
After all was said and done, I don't really remember much about
the climb, other than the night we spent trying to sleep in the
We climbed thousands of steps and I don't really remember
much of that trip either.
What I remember the most about that day is a lesson
of photographic power, not because of what I choose to show you,
but because of what I chose not to reveal.
since that day, I often look with jaundiced eye at any type of travel
For I figure that given enough time, I can make the
worst places on the planet look like a great place to visit.
Hopefully, after 30 years, the oasis has been cleaned
up and the dump in the desert is a distant memory.
One of the beauties of the web is that you can see
some of the same trees from these slides taken 30 years ago and
the entire Monastery surrounded by the desert; here
and another here.