Photographer Guy Tal on the Colorado Plateau
Guy Tal (www.guytal.com) is a photographer, writer, instructor, and philosopher who splits his time between all of these things and just living. He has been rather prolific in producing eBooks, and this one, Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau, is a mix of philosophy, memories, and of course, images. His style and philosophy are refreshing in a world of highly competitive photography.
Guy: ”The Colorado Plateau covers an area of about 130,000 square miles. Within this expanse, several smaller plateaus and mountain ranges loom high above the canyons, some rising to elevations well over 12,000 feet above sea level.
“Strewn about the region, laccoliths, such as the La Sal, Henry, and Abajo Mountains, jut prominently from the slickrock, their snowy caps visible in some places from over one hundred miles away. Distinct from the mountains, a series of high plateaus form an immense staircases of tall cliffs leading to large tracts of flat highlands: the Aquarius, the Kaiparowitz, the Markagunt, the Paunsagunt, and the Kaibab, to name a few.
“Covered in forests of aspen and conifers, alpine lakes and verdant mountain streams, the high country seems a world apart from the harsh desert below.
“To the explorer, the mountains and high plateaus offer experiences far different than those of the sandstone labyrinths. When searing temperatures turn the slickrock country into a scorching furnace, one can find wildflowers, lush meadows and crystalline lakes here. The plateaus offer secure footing for trees at elevations sometimes exceeding 11,000 feet, making them the highest woodlands in North America.
“Groves of aspen trees turn with the seasons, exposing their bare limbs and stark-white boles to the winter storms, donning coats of fluorescent green buds as spring arrives, and spectacular displays of gold, orange, pink and red in the autumn season. The conifer forests, rich with the ancient scents of pine, spruce, and fir, offer shade and shelter and shed a thick bed of soft needles underfoot where delicate flowers and mushrooms sprout with the summer monsoon rains.
“Though beautiful in their own right, these highlands also offer dizzying views of the desert lands thousands of feet below. On a clear day one might see for more than a hundred miles in every direction.
“Steep rocky slopes and snow cover lasting for several months out of the year combine to make these lofty benches among the least accessible and seldom-visited places on the Colorado Plateau. In the absence of human activity, wildlife is abundant, and native vegetation thrives. These are also places of quiet respite, solitude and inspiration, especially in the midst of summer when intense heat and monsoon floods make the lower elevations less welcoming.
“In the winter months, a thick blanket of snow renders access to these highlands significantly more difficult and, in many places, altogether impossible. Those who brave the elements on skis or snowshoes will find a pristine wonderland in white almost devoid of color, sound and scent, reduced to undulating snow mounds and fine accents along delicate branches. The place is dormant and the silence as thick and rich as any you will find on this planet.”