The Story Behind the Photograph

Sunset at Black Rock Point: June 7, 2016, 4:49 pm - 7:56 pm

Sunset at Black Rock Point: June 7, 2016, 4:49 pm - 7:56 pm

While on residency in the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon National Conservation Area last June, I traveled out to Black Rock Point to work on a video project. Earlier in the residency, I had found a small playa where I wanted to do some work. It was a clear day as I headed out, stopping along the way to gather some images with my camera.

I made it out to the little playa right around noon and started setting up for my video. The plan was to hang out there making work until sunset when the light would be right for my video. The wind started to pick up and a group of clouds starting moving from the west toward where I was working. They started to gather into a small storm that was moving east and north. I kept my eye on them, thinking they would miss the little playa and blow over. However, within minutes, it started sprinkling. I decided to drive up to higher ground just in case it got worse, which turned out to be a good idea. The rain started to come down harder and, just like in the cartoons, it looked like the storm was just a microcell concentrated right over me. I drove down further to Black Rock Springs where I knew I would have to wait it out. 

The storm over the Black Rock (left) and during the storm at Black Rock Point (right). Notes from my sketchbook: "1:30-ish, pouring rain. Let up briefly for 10 or 15 minutes. Thunder and hail right over Black Rock Point. 2:33, still raining."

The storm over the Black Rock (left) and during the storm at Black Rock Point (right).
Notes from my sketchbook:
"1:30-ish, pouring rain. Let up briefly for 10 or 15 minutes. Thunder and hail right over Black Rock Point. 2:33, still raining."

At that point, the ground was getting saturated and streams of water were making their way down the dirt road, making it impassible. I knew I would have to stay put and wait for the ground to dry enough before I attempted to leave so that I wouldn't get stuck--the playa turns to clay when wet. In the meantime, the storm cleared around 3 pm and the sun mostly returned. It was too wet to get back to the little playa to record video so I set up my tripod and photographed the changing light on Black Rock Point while enjoying the view. I ended up spending the night in my car and had to wait 24 hours before I was able to drive out--even then, it was a little touch-and-go (but that's another story).