Dean M. Chriss
Sacred Landscape, Sunrise

Sacred Landscape, Sunrise

(Click image to enlarge)

The Navajo people (Diné - pronounced di-neh) have lived here for more than 500 years, and their Pueblo Indian ancestors, the Anasazi, for over a thousand years before them. It is no wonder the Navajo people regard this as a sacred landscape.

I first photographed this scene in 2007. Since then I have photographed it on more than a dozen occasions and have spent the nicest Thanksgiving day sunrise of my life there. The photographic results have varied widely due to weather. Skies range from totally cloudy and drab to clear blue, but the big problem is usually wind. As with all large canyons, winds fueled by changing temperatures at sunrise are often strong enough to prevent any hope of sharp photographs. The photograph above is my most recent attempt, and the first where any sunlight was present in the absence of any wind. There was a large deck of clouds to the east. The early light shone through a through a small gap between the cloud layers, muting the light while filling shadows and softening contrast. I am not sure if this is the "best" photograph I have made at this spot, but it is certainly among them due to the atmospheric conditions. The most distant conical peak in the center-right in the background is thirty miles away. I will definitely return here again for the experience, if not for the photographs.