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an intimate landscape photograph of cracked white clay reflecting sunset colours

Peeled – 2020

In 2019 I photographed this photograph in a Saskatchewan hiking area that is also home to some fascinating clay formations. These formations aren’t large and impressive, but there is some beautiful texture that mixes through the red and white clay that can be quite captivating. Since that photograph, a couple of my landscape photography friends have been bugging me to take them to the area so they could see it for themselves. Well, in July 2020, it finally worked out that we were able to visit. 

As storms hit the area the day before, the road that accesses the trailhead was a muddy mess, so we had to hike in the extra distance carrying our cameras and star trackers for astrophotography later. We made a couple of stops at different clay formations, admiring the unique geology. It was on our second stop that my friend, Bryce Mironuck, began yelling excitedly at us that he had found some fascinating textures. He wasn’t wrong. The rain had washed down a clay hoodoo and filled a flat, textureless section of white clay with compelling mud tiles and cracks. I was looking forward to shooting this scene at sunset, thinking that the white clay would reflect the colours of the sunset sky, giving some additional interest. 

The goal was to get to the tree for sunset as both Bryce and Myles were eager to see the tree with a field of wildflowers out front. But by the time we got to the tree for sunset, I was hot, tired, tick-infested, and itchy; I didn’t relish the thought of going back through the long grass for what might be an interesting photograph. As the conversation shifted to astrophotography and I noticed that the milky way alignment was perfect behind the tree in front of us, I groaned as I realized at that moment that I left my star tracker back at these mud tiles. At the time, I thought that I’d save myself the 10 pounds on the way to the tree and that we’d be heading back there for astrophotography anyway. I determined right then and there that I was going to photograph this mud tile scene at sunset. So I hiked (Actually, I ran) back to this spot to take advantage of the reflected light from a breathtaking sunset for one of my favourite photographs of 2020.

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