table rock
A Table Rock near Paschal Sherman Indian School

Photographed: Jan. 1995
Format: 4x5
Film: TRI-X
Development: N

    This may very well have been my very first pre-visualized photograph.

    Pre-visualization is something coined by Ansel Adams, who felt a photographer could look at a scene and see in their mind, after training, what a final print could look like.

    I came upon this rock quite by chance. What other way is there? I like going down small, dirt roads less traveled, so when I spotted a seldom-used route off Omak Lake Road I took it. The road (now closed off) zigzagged through a lot of tossed junk - refrigerators, stoves, stuff like that - then wound its way up a hill. I felt the area held potential on my first visit. The road ended overlooking a valley with a farm (Boyd Walton's) and the tribal mission school (Paschal Sherman) in the distance.

    A friend, Barnett Kalikow, and I returned on a fall day to explore more. That's when I turned a corner and saw this rock. The best angle had a cliff where I needed to put a tripod. Behind the rock was another cliff making any possible picture difficult if not impossible.

    I took a snapshot of it from one side. Initially my interest was simply because it was an odd looking rock. I know it sounds corny, but I awoke in December from a dream that showed the rock covered with a light dusting of snow, and with fog helping separate it from its tree-filled background.

    A few days later, just such conditions existed. The temperature hovered around 20 degrees, which froze the normally muddy road that could stop anything but a determined four-wheel drive vehicle.

    I took three hours to travel the four miles from my home to the site, hike to the rock, get the image (which I liken to a floating rock) and return home. Part of the problem was my hanging on the cliff by my toes on an icy ledge. Since I could not use a tripod, I balanced my camera on my backpack, which was balanced on a ledge next to the rock. I only had a 90 mm lens (about 28 mm for 35 mm users), which made my getting as far back as possible necessary to get the whole picture.

    I heard of a balanced rock in the area called "Table Rock," so that is what I called this image. I learned later that there was another balanced rock that was the better-known Table Rock located closer to the mission.

Copyright © 2000 by Al Camp. All Rights Reserved.
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