Eye Scene: Photographer, Ryuichi Oshimoto Travels with Sigma Camera & Lenses
Title Photo: On the northeastern region in Arizona, sunlight pours into the valley of the Navajo Nation. Canyon de Chelly, made into a national monument in 1931, was inhabited by people over 5000 years ago and presently Navajo Indians and its livestock still occupy the area.
Under the cloudy skies in late May, I drove north on US Route 191 in the northeastern area of Arizona. On the soft rolling hills, the passing cars drove unhurriedly. I drove past homes without fences occasionally and continually drove through the non-existent traffic. When I arrive at a village named Ganado. Since I barely saw any stores along the way, there was one store that looked big. I went to look for some snacks and liquor as a nightcap in the store, but I couldn’t find any alcohol. I asked where I could purchase some and the young woman replied expressionlessly, “You can’t buy any alcohol in the reservation.” I had stepped foot in the Navajo Nation. I left the store and followed a sign that read, “historic site,” which lead to Hubbell Trading Post, a national historic site. The US Army had forcefully relocated the Navajo Tribe 300 miles away to the east of Bosque Redondo and they were permitted to move back in 1868. Ten years later in 1878, John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased this trading post. The trading post became an important place for communication and goods. In 1965, purchased by National Park Services, history of this landmark can still be felt.
The front building of the trading post is still active to this day. The large aperture telephoto zoom lens captured the life engraved in this scene.
I headed further north on SR 191 from the Trading Post. The vast prairie continued with roaming horses. The landscape was quite large, but quiet.
The wind is strong and a little chilly on the prairie. The horses wandered around freely and grazed on the withered grass.
While the wind blows, I pointed the large aperture telephoto zoom lens toward the horses and pressed the shutter.
When I arrive at a large village named Chile, I drove east from Route 191 and immediately into the National Monument. I went to the campsite next to the business center and saw a sign that read, “No fee area.” After setting up my small tent in a favorable spot, I stopped by the business center to set up the plan. Canyon de Chelly National Monument is separated by North Rim Drive, a road north of the visitor center and South Rim Drive. I drove on the northern road and stood above the canyon. The sky was covered in clouds and the winds were strong and cold on top of the canyon. A moment later, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine through. The temperature rose and the cold looking valley returned its color.
The Canyon de Chelly National Monument has several valleys and this one is Canyon Del. Occasionally sunlight leaked from the cloudy western skies and created dramatic scenery.
Between the boulders a Juniper Tree thrives. I heard that the more coiled it is, the more power the land has.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100,White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 24.2mm
Just before the sunset, clouds covered the western skies, so I couldn’t see the sunset. At the campsite, I cooked some pasta in the dark. Without wine, dinner was dull and I went into the tent early. After checking all the images on the camera monitor I took during the day, I fell asleep. The next morning, in order to see the morning valley, I left the campsite (elevation 5510ft) and drove on South Rim Drive.
The refreshing morning light seeps through the fields of the Navajo tribe on the bottom of the valley.
Feeling like a bird ready to take off, I pressed the shutter.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec, Aperture: f5.6, Focal length:24.2mm
Walking and lolling around like a child on the naturally made sculpture, the hard rock surface was warm and tender.
The super wide-angle zoom lens largely captured the rock surface, sky and valley.
The temperature rose when the sun rose. Instead of returning to the campground for breakfast, I decided to walk on a trail down the valley in the cool morning. During the mid-19th century, the US Army disrupted the land where the Navajo tribe inhabited and in January 1864, 8000-9000 people from the Navajo tribe were forced to move to internment camps in Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. A trip that took 300 miles in 18 days, at least 200 died. Life in these camps was miserable and 25% of the population of those incarcerated was dead. They were allowed to return to the land in June 1868, but their houses, farms and livestock were gone. A dismal time in history has been carved at Canyon de Chelly.
To walk down the valley without a tour guide is prohibited inside of the national monument, but the trail leading to White House Ruin, one of the native residential homes, is not.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100,White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/125 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 24.2mm
I looked up after arriving on the bottom of the valley and saw a wild goat like animal. Thinking of the trip up the trail, I regret not carrying a telephoto lens.
There are a number of dwellings and it was fun discovering the dwellings through the viewfinder.
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm
After working up a sweat climbing the trail, I drove to the end of South Rim Drive to see the tall thing rock.
I spotted a large lizard by the parking lot. Stretching the telephoto zoom lens, I photographed it quietly from afar so it wouldn’t get scared away.
After eating lunch back at the campground, I folded up the tent and drove on North Rim Drive and left Canyon de Chelly National Monument. I turned north at the intersection and headed north on US Route 191.
The last sightseeing spot on North Rim Drive is Massacre Cave Overlook. I saw a skull of a horned animal tangled in the branches of a tree.
As I drive north on US Route 191, a wild-west type of landscape spreads throughout. The road without the fences allowed the horses to cross the road. There were beer bottles that couldn’t be purchased here on the side of the road.
From US Route 191, I headed east on US Route 160. The road skewed north and as I crossed Arizona into New Mexico, I approach the “Four Corners,” an intersection of the borders between Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
Many people point their cameras at the small area (37°N Latitude, 109°W Longitude).
Camera: DP2s, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 100, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length:24.2mm
When one places their foot on this circular metal plate, it means standing on all four states at the same time. The macro lens sharply captured the metal plate reflecting afternoon sun. Changing to monochrome, the engraved words were emphasized.
Around the surrounding area, the four Native American nations (Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni) occupy the area and until the US won the Mexican-American war (1846-1848), this part of the US had no borders. As I stood on the Four Corners while absorbing the strong western sun, it didn’t feel like standing on all four states. What I felt is that humans are the type of animal to favor creating borders.
All SD1 photographs have been photographed with a SD1 Beta version. Also all artwork on this page was processed from RAW data (X3F) with Sigma PhotoPro software. After processing, some selected images were imported into retouching software to remove dust. This photo essay is currently running on Sigma Japan’s site and it is published here two months later.