We all know what I’m talking about. In review, for those who have never watched the Olympics on TV, degree-of-difficulty means if you attempt more difficult maneuver than your compeitiors, you should receive credit for it. Strictly speaking, it’s a multiplier. In photography, we know it works like this; the farther you go, the harder you work, the better the shot.
Let’s face it, we’re more impressed by the guy who took his images after being kidnapped by Intergalactic SpaceWookies and taken to distant galaxies as a photography slave, than the guy who shoots an amazing double rainbow in his backyard after waking up hung over at noon on January 2nd. We’re human, we like hearing about the adventure; we like to live vicariously. (Just a word about adventure. It’s not really an adventure until everything turns to cra@p. Do you really think being a photo slave for Intergalactic SpaceWookies is all supernovas and latte grandes? I don’t think so.)
Which brings us to today’s image, CLASSIC AZ. This image was a conscious attempt to find something different than the iconic. The mountain you see silhouetted here is the Ajo Range in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and as it faces west, glows a magnificent red in the fading light of day. Hence the iconic status.
Being interested in something different, I decided to shoot the evening-shot-in-the-morning. So I scouted for a morning shot the day before; finding this composition. I was taken how the cactus were all really young in that they had no arms; I call them “spikes”. I used my compass to check the angle the sun would arrive; I knew that the mountain would be rendered in silhouette and estimated at what time the sun would rise over the Ajo Range to the east. I took the time to set up the shot with my 4X5 on the tripod. Doing so told me that I would need my tall (roadkill) tripod for added height so that the mountain rise above the cactus, as well as the step stool so I could see through the camera.
I arrived at the appointed hour, set up and waited. Right as the sun was about to clear the eastern mountains uber-dramatic cirrus clouds began racing into my frame from the west. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I shot 3 sheets and changed lens like the TasmanianDevil Whirlwind; shooting 3 more before the clouds were gone.
Ok, back to the Degree-of-Difficulty. We know that it shouldn’t matter at all. If the image needs a backstory to make it effective, maybe it wasn’t that good to begin with. But the truth is, man has been intrigued by tales of adventure and the unexplored since the beginning of recorded time. Maybe some of us would actually like to be kidnapped and transported to distant galaxies by Intergalactic SpaceWookies. (I’m pretty sure Ian would). So it’s my postulation that degree-of-difficulty factor resides in the imagination of the viewer.
Classic AZ was only about 200 feet off of the dirt road. However, I had to carry the big tripod, the step stool and the 45, twice. Just sayin’.