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The Jack Dykinga Workshop
In May, we rafted the Colorado River with Jack Dykinga. Dykinga started his career as a photojournalist. At 28, he won a Pulitzer Prize while working at the Chicago Sun Times. He later moved to Arizona and turned his attention to landscape photography finding a home and photographic genre that have held him ever since. Richard Maack says, "Dykinga, like most color landscape photographers of his generation, was hugely influenced by Muench's work in Arizona Highways." Today, Maack says, "Dykinga is the best of the current generation of landscape photographers."
There are logistical challenges aplenty when you shoot on the river. Segment producer Lew Steiger explains in his Behind the Scenes feature:
"What makes a Grand Canyon river shoot tough logistically is ... you're on a river trip. Once it starts you can't go back upstream for anything you forgot, there's no electricity, no Fed-Ex, no Wal-Mart, and no contact with the outside world except a radio or satellite-phone for dire emergencies. You have to protect your equipment from the elements and you have to balance having backup for critical gear (like cameras) against the need to travel light. You need a zillion batteries, a generator to charge them, and truly waterproof cases for everything- to guard against rain, waves, hot sun, wind, sand, wild rides and spilled beer ... We had a great little camera boat from AZRA, our outfitter. The only disadvantage was that it was flippable if we lost a motor we really had to pack it carefully each day so that even if the darn thing was upside down our stuff would be okay."
The shoot certainly was an adventure. A personal highlight was when Lew wanted a shot of the participants' boat (a.k.a. "The Mother Ship") shooting a rapid from the "Mother Ship's" p.o.v. He asked if I'd tape it using one of our mini-DV Cams. I enthusiastically agreed; this could be fun. With a waterproof hood over the camera, I joined the Mother Ship. For most rapids, people would sit on top of long cushioned benches that double as storage boxes. For this rapid, the guide instructed everyone to sit on the floor of the boat and hold on tight. Not being able to grip with my hands (the camera taking priority), I locked legs with the two sturdy men on either side of me. Our boat didn't flip and neither did I. Lew maybe got one useable shot out of the deal and I was highly charged for the rest of the day.
Beth was on the Behind the Scenes beat for this location as well, so you'll be able to read more details about the shoot in her feature.
I suppose the thing that really surprised me on this trip was how the Canyon effects you even when you're not looking for it.
My main Web focus on the River was to produce a feature about traveling in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater.
Senator Goldwater had a lifelong passion: the Grand Canyon. As he said toward the end of his life, "If I ever have a mistress, it's going to be the Grand Canyon."
In 1940, he fulfilled a lifetime ambition: to boat down the Colorado and Green Rivers. He joined eight other "river rats" and traveled from Green River, Utah to the mouth of the Virgin River. From this two-month expedition, he would produce hundreds of still photographs, a short film and a book, Delightful Journey. This trip would also change his life forever: He said it is what got him into politics.
I had made a documentary with the Senator about his photography six years earlier. We had interviewed him at the rim of the South Canyon where he waxed poetic about his river experiences. It sparked a terrific desire in me to raft the river too. So, sixty years after Goldwater first rafted the river, I would travel there in his footsteps.
A Seattle radiologist and fellow traveler would later talk about traveling in peoples' footsteps and share what has become a favorite Einstein quote: "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants."
Traveling in Goldwater's footsteps ended up being a powerful experience for me. Like most great adventures, I went seeking one thing and found so much more. I'd like to share an excerpt from In the Footsteps of Goldwater, Day 6.
I wasn't the only one effected by the power of the Canyon. Here's a clip from Images of Arizona. The voice you'll hear is Jack Dykinga's. This sequence is near the end of the film and it is edited and scored as it will appear in the final documentary.