by Jeff Morley
There's an 'online photo gallery and social network' out there that presents a stunning, high quality selection of images by some of the world's best photographers. Images are curated by a panel, and they are very selective about what makes it onto their pages. In their submission guidelines or FAQs, or somewhere… they note that they don't often approve 'cliche motifs', like lonely trees, blurry water, butterflies, birds, a long pier, a fisherman throwing a net, etc. I certainly understand that sentiment. On the other hand, the reason something becomes a cliche or a popular photographic subject in the first place might be because there's something moving, or powerful about certain images that feature that subject.
On the day after Christmas, I left home at 'zero-dark-thirty' and made my way up to one of my favorite places—the Williamson Valley in north-central Arizona. Not far from Prescott, it is nevertheless a different world entirely. It's a vast patchwork of National Forest, open grazing land and ranches that never fails to calm me down and inspire me. The sun had just crept over the horizon, and I shivered in the perfectly clean 15 degree air. I wandered north toward this tree, maybe a hundred yards from the road and simply couldn't resist the light, the shadow of the tree, and the magnificent sky. Maybe it's a cliche motif, and maybe it's just one more lonely tree photo, but the process of getting there, finding it, framing this shot, processing the image, and presenting it here have brought me great satisfaction.