It was time to see how well I could make a landscape in black and white and Arizona seemed the place to begin. These are the Superstition Mountains and high plains.
The names alone make me hear music playing and the pounding of hoofbeats.
Every time “bigness” comes up in a photography challenge, I default to the biggest thing I ever photographed and which has ever since pretty much defined “big” for me.
The Grand Canyon. I know. Not exactly an obscure subject, but it is … well … so very vast. I felt my camera was utterly inadequate to the task of showing how huge and magnificent this canyon is. Known lovingly and locally as “The Big Hole,” you’d need a fleet of cameras — preferably video — to capture it. I am not sure anything but standing and seeing with your own eyes could do it justice.
Here are my best efforts.
Western movies. You love them or hate them. Hardly anyone is neutral. I’ve always loved them, since I was a little girl, pretending to be a cross between The Lone Ranger and Jesse James.
But why? What is it about westerns that makes them so appealing to those of us that love them?
Let’s work this as a list, top to bottom. Remember, this is my list. You may have a completely different list and totally not relate to mine. That’s okay.
Why I love Western Movies
1) Horses. I love horses. The more horses, the better. You could leave out the riders and I would sit there and watch the horses, no problem.
2) Scenery. The deserts, the mountains, the plains. The dusty trail as the wagon train rolls westward. The Rocky Mountains looming, challenging. Sunsets over Monument Valley. Some of the most incredible cinematography has been done for westerns. From Ride the High Country to almost anything ever filmed by John Ford. To the dusty streets of Tombstone … the big sky hangs over everything, a huge blue dome. Everything is bigger, brighter, younger. The beauty is hard to match and it goes so well with the eye of the camera.
3) Simple ethics, simple philosophy. There is something terribly appealing about a world where the excuse “He needed killing” is an actual defense at trial. You can put a lot of violence into a western and it’s just fine. The bad guys wear black hats, figuratively or literally. The good guys are the ones with the nice horses, better clothing … and white hats. No ambivalence. No confusion. Not at all like the real world made up of endless shades of gray. It’s a black and white world, black and white morality. “He needed killing. So I killed him.” I get that.
4) Heroes. This is really a continuation of the previous, but Wyatt Earp kills a lot of people and it’s okay. I can cheer him on as he and Doc Holliday rampage through the west. “Yes!!” I cry, waving my fist in the air. I could never kill anyone, but I can be really grateful that someone else is doing it for me. In real life, I favor gun control. In westerns? Blast away!
If the movie also has a good plot, terrific sound track, great cinematography? Some wit, cleverness and even a few laughs? Bonus material.
That’s it. Pretty simple, eh? Horses, gorgeous scenery, good guys being good, bad guys being bad. Add music, dim the lights and pass the popcorn.