When the stress of work, life and everything else getting in the way of living, it's sometimes best to just hop on a plane and get out of town to replenish our visual arts calling. With that in mind, this images represents a well thought out plan (one of few of late, hence the trip) and was taken on the last day just before heading back to the airport.
Located in the absolute middle of nowhere New Mexico, Pecos National Park represents a long forgotten civilization and culture that once thrived 400-600 years ago. Much like many of the pueblos that sprung up from the Spanish and Native American cultures of that era, the Pecos built an absolutely beautiful piece of nirvana for themselves. Unfortunately, as with many of the cultures from this geographic area, many did not survive due to famine, drought, tribal, religious and grand inquistions (Spanish conquest) of the period.
This location was discovered around the turn of the century and has since been reclaimed and designated a National Park. Being managed by the government, however, creates some unique challenges for the photographer. Since the park is only open from 8a - 6p (not exactly prime time 'golden light' hours), one must be creative when dealing with National Park Rangers. A well placed bribe of coffee and donuts from the day before secured me an early entrance the following morning, during which I had the park to myself one hour before the public!
There are 2 kivas on the property but this one is aligned with the rising sun which allows for the perfect 'sunbeam' as you see here. Sunbeam captures aren't normal or common and require timing and well, a whole lot of dirt being tossed in the air to disperse the light. The small, underground chamber coupled with little room to maneuver does create some unique photo challenges.
I spent nearly 1 hour of uninterrupted shooting waiting for the proper sunrise light angle to get this. Needless to say, pack a lot of water, don't ever think about changing lens once down there, and make sure you use a wide angle and mini-tripod.
And, do take the time to soak in the spiritual meaning of it all!