Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cathedral Rock

with 23 comments


My immediate impression was a palace or fortress. Later I learned that this natural landmark goes by the name Cathedral Rock, so I can call up a memory of Notre Dame in Paris, even if the actual location is an expanse of desert in northern Arizona rather than a city in northern France. When we stopped at Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River late in the afternoon on October 21st, the light was just right to illuminate this imposing geological feature.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2016 at 5:15 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. A fantastic play of light and shadow!


    December 11, 2016 at 8:44 AM

  2. This image is absolutely stunning. It reminds me of something you might see in the East, too. I expect to see camels and turbaned Bedouins.


    December 11, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    • Nope, just me wearing my Tilley hat. I’d never heard of this formation, which was a great thing to come across on our way to Zion.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2016 at 9:52 AM

  3. Love your posts, Steve! Countryside I might never see except through the lenses of others. That shot in the last post of all the aspens with no leaves is one of my favorites. Something about the starkness of it. Very beautiful.

    Lavinia Ross

    December 11, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    • If you’re in the Cascade foothills, you’re a lot closer to the Pacific than I normally am—which is why I was happy to see the California coast after 20 years—but the desert Southwest is about equally far from both of us.

      The pictures of the bare aspens is one of my favorites, too. I knew it would be special as soon as I saw it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2016 at 8:26 PM

  4. The background makes this photo special. The blueness shows off the rock formation in the foreground. Often the contrast isn’t so defined. Very artistic. I can see how the name “transpired”.


    December 11, 2016 at 7:40 PM

    • Shadowed areas really do have a blue or purple cast to them. To a large extent our brains adjust for that when we see those shaded places in person, but the camera sensor records the cooler colors. In this case I was only too happy to have a contrast with the tans and browns of the rocks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2016 at 8:30 PM

  5. The background not only sets up a fine color contrast, the way the rock fills the frame makes it feel massive. That, in turn, makes Cathedral Rock seem even larger than it may be: although it surely must be large enough. And if that weren’t enough, the vaguely Sphinx-like appearance of Cathedral Rock adds a bit of mystery to it all. What a photo.


    December 11, 2016 at 8:44 PM

    • And what good fortune to have found Cathedral Rock lit up in the best way I could imagine. All I had to do was put on a telephoto lens and aim. I never had a chance to drive or walk closer to the rock and get a sense of how massive it is, nor to photograph it at other angles against different backgrounds. In any case, I was so happy with what I saw from my vantage point that I don’t think I could have done better elsewhere, at least not at that time of day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2016 at 8:52 PM

  6. This also reminds me of The Alhambra in Seville, Spain, that I was fortunate to visit last summer. Great photograph!


    December 12, 2016 at 10:46 AM

    • I see what you mean, based on pictures. I hope to join you one day in being able to say I’ve visited the Alhambra and that part of Spain more generally. In the meantime, this former province of Spain will have to suffice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2016 at 10:51 AM

      • I hope you do get there, Steve. It’s very beautiful even with all of us touristas.


        December 12, 2016 at 10:53 AM

        • And I hope you’ll get to visit the Southwest of the United States, if you haven’t already made it to that region—or to revisit, if you have. I was surprised at how crowded some of the better-knon places were even in late October and early November. I’ll try to visit Spain outside the tourist season.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 12, 2016 at 10:59 AM

  7. A correction–the Alhambra is in Granada! In Seville we saw the Alcazar. And the Southwest US looks magnificent. About Spain, we went in mid May, a bit before the extreme heat. You are right to try to go outside tourist season. All best.


    December 12, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    • Thanks for the emendation. For those of us who live in Texas and the Southwest, the extreme heat of Granada and Seville may not seem so extreme.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM

  8. This really is beautiful.


    December 12, 2016 at 10:21 PM

  9. The light has transformed this image. Notre Dame or a Citadel – similarities certainy. Such an imposing shape and structure. Any idea how tall this is?


    December 13, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    • Definitely a transformation: hooray for light. Citadel is also a good word.

      As for the height of the formation, I don’t know. I took my photographs with a telephoto lens and never got close in person. I searched online for a while but didn’t turn up anything.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2016 at 2:13 PM

  10. […] you heard last time, late in the afternoon on October 21st we stopped in far northern Arizona at the Navajo Bridge […]

  11. I agree with your assessment, Steve. There is some resemblance with the church ruins at Pecos.


    December 14, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    • From a distance I was astonished that this is a natural formation, so much like an architectural structure did it seem to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 14, 2018 at 9:11 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: