This image was composed around midnight in early January. One of my close photographer friends, Jack, came up from Phoenix for the weekend to explore and create beautiful images. The moon happened to be particularly bright this evening along with an upsettingly cloudy night. Buffalo Park was our backup plan for the night, originally our eyes were set on shooting the San Francisco Peaks from down at the bottom. We spent a good portion of time searching for good subjects for our star trail photographs, but everyone was getting a bit restless due to the decrease in temperature and windy weather. We decided on a spot just to the left of where this image was taken, and began composing our shots. We agreed to leave our camera in the field while we went to get something to eat down the road. A little over an hour and a half later we come back to the field, but this time we are not alone. We made it no more than 50 yards down the trail before we noticed two pairs of eyes floating near each other off to the right. We froze dead in our tracks, all thinking the same thing, mountain lion. Fear quickly set in and we simultaneously began to inch backwards towards the car to devise a plan. Without actually identifying what we saw, we proceeded, two different times, down the trail in hopes to get them to run away. Armed to the teeth with whatever photo gear we had left to use as weapons in case of a showdown, in our third attempt we decided to just go for it and hope for the best. On this final attempt we discovered the “mountain lions” that we had been terrified were merely two deer eating the grass in the field.
This story is not so much about the image and what it depicts, but more about the experience shared in the event that this image was capture in. My photography helps me remember a feeling or an idea during the time I was taking the photo. It allows me to be transported back to the time and place. I can remember a lot of frustration because of the clouds on this particular night. Due to the bright moonlight the landscape was sharp and full of color. The clouds also began to blow off and become more wispy, then becoming illuminated by the moon. All these factors played into my ability to capture the image above.
About the Photographer:
My Name is Matt Valley and I am from Scottsdale, Arizona but currently residing in Flagstaff as a student at Northern Arizona University. I have been shooting photography for about 6 or 7 years now, which has allowed me to experience a lot. I have had the opportunity to shoot a handful of weddings, senior photo shoots, concerts, action sports, families, and in landscape all over Arizona. I cannot say that I prefer a specific subject, however, I can most definitely say I have the most fun shooting people. I love being able to combine the aspects of portraits into beautiful landscape shots. My process depends a lot on pre-visualization. I would not say that I depend on it, but it helps jump start the creative process for my work.
To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at youcansleepwhenyouredead.com/wordpress/its-back-the-2014-nau-photography-students-behind-the-image-guest-blogger-project/.