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River Reflections

Interviewer: Is there anything that's memorable, that you've found out about the Grand Canyon, that you find interesting or salient or significant?

Dykinga: There's several things, being a two-billion-year-old rock is a big deal. And also, to me, the big deal about geology is putting things into perspective. You know, when you look at that narrow slice of formation at the very top and think in terms of human presence on the Earth, literally we are there only a twinkling of the eye compared to the age of the earth and other life forms. And it goes back to that same thing about human arrogance. I mean, it's amazing how we can always come up with "what a great boy am I" theories about things, when in fact we've only been here, basically a heartbeat in geological time. The size and the sheer scale of the place, you can't help but have that just kind of wash over you and leave you kind of awe-inspired. It may not be on a conscious level. It may be two weeks after these people go back to their offices, and think, "Geez! you know, this place is big, and maybe I'm not so important."

And for me, going into this trip, I just went to a memorial service for a really good friend of mine, who died of brain cancer. You know, the older you get, the more you find out that, as Ed Abbey says, "Nobody gets out of here alive." So there's nothing like having your best friend die to give you a little introspection. And the canyon's a great place for that sort of self-awareness.

Do you want to say something about the crew?

Interviewer: If you want to.

Dykinga: Well, the thing that kind of amazes me is the logistical problems of going down the river and getting yourself in position to do good photography. It's not that easy, as you know. There are certain places in the canyon where things get a little congested. And for photographers, you want to be in places that are not so busy, you want to be there before there's direct sunlight. So for our crew, to get us down the river and put us into positions in the sweet light ... For instance, being in Elves Chasm two hours before you see anybody — that's unheard of. And the same for the Matkatambia — that's really great. It's kinda how I approach photography. I do my best work in solitude, and if I'm in areas that are really congested, I oftentimes just drive away, forget it. I think you get more inspired in a place like the Grand Canyon, or any really special place in solitude. It's kind of the reason I do it — it's food for the soul.


behind the scenes / in the footsteps of barry goldwater / the experience
photography / plan your adventure / interview / biography

jack dykinga / leroy dejolie / david muench


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