In 2001, I made a extensive tour of some of my favorite areas of the Southwest, from the slit canyons of northern Arizona, to Bryce and Zion National Parks in southern Utah, then to Death Valley and the Owens Valley (i.e., along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Mountains) in California. I previously had been to each of the places numerous times, but the trip was a vivid reminder of the unmatched splendor of the scenery in that concentrated portion of our magical planet.
The real purpose of the trip was to show an exchange student from the Republic of Georgia, who had been living at our home for nearly a year and was about to return to his homeland, some of the most spectacular landscapes in the United States. It gave him a good idea of the scenery that he had seen through my photographs, but now could see through his own eyes.
But I wasn’t just a tour guide for him. I did a lot of photography along the way. Normally I shoot with my 4×5 camera, but because we were jumping from place to place fairly quickly to see as much as possible in the few days we had for the trip (though we did hike around a few places to get a more intimate connection with them), I chose to use my medium-format Mamiya 645 camera most of the time. It allowed me to set up more quickly and reel off several exposures when I wanted to do so.