Last night I decided to take the drive out of Jackson Hole and into the high desert that lies to the east. Winding my way up an endlessly long dirt road, kicking up dust, and dodging the creatures of the night I was making my way into a place held sacred by the Mountain Shoshone. This landscape is completely saturated with the cultural artifacts of these people. Pit blinds, tepee rings, drive lines, buffalo jumps, and of course that which has me in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night – petroglyphs.
I’m not one to take places like this lightly. Entering a place of this nature is bigger than church. Its something that our culture really might not even have an example of. This is a place power for the Shoshone. For untold generations these people came here to invoke the spirits of their world for help. Each petroglyph holds a story, one of significance, one of hopes, dreams, and maybe even something darker here and there.
This particular petroglyph stands out from all the rest to me, and allegedly the Shoshone as well. Carved upon a massive rock some distance before you ever enter into the area of petroglyphs, some consider this to be the guardian of the valley, the guardian of the this holy place. Locals call it Crazy Woman. Others tell of extraordinary power which is exemplified from the lines that seem to emanate from her feet across the rock. I’m told that this is representative of super natural power.
Sometimes you plan everything just right, but then forget about one minor detail. Sometimes that minor detail is not so minor though. Sometimes its as big as a full moon! My original plan was to photograph this particular petroglyph with the milky way unfurled across the heavens above. I drove two hours through the night to reach this. That’s how it goes sometimes. Not that I’m complaining, as this just means I have another great excuse to get back in there.
To create this photograph, I had to lay down on my belly just underneath of the petroglyph. I didn’t have to do this of course, but I wanted to capture the significance of this petroglyph by deity towering above, arms outstretched, and looming over me. Its the little things in the details of composition that make a big difference in photography.