January 20, 2014

Petroglyphs by Night

Photograph by Joseph Thomas, National Geographic Your Shot

"Imagine if we could speak to the earliest Americans," writes Your Shot contributor Joseph Thomas, who submitted this picture to the Imagine If assignment. "In a way, they are speaking to us. Photographing these petroglyphs inspires a sense of communion with the ancients who created them, a spiritual connection that reaches back through the ages. Three o'clock in the morning brought the moon into perfect position to illuminate the scene. The cactus was lit by a flashlight with an orange filter."

The moonlit sky and the rock wall create striking planes of color that neatly divide the image. The creative use of an orange filter gives the photo a nice pop of color while balancing the petroglyph on the other side of the frame. —Monica C. Corcoran, managing editor, Your Shot

This photo and caption were submitted to Your Shot. Check out the new and improved website, where you can share photos, take part in assignments, lend your voice to stories, and connect with fellow photographers from around the globe.

46 comments
Ngoc Lan Le
Ngoc Lan Le

I have just looked at your photo.

How interesting !

I think the cactus was lit by the camp fire, but the fact of the matter that they were lit by a flashlight with an orange filter.

I admire you for that - a great originality!

I wish you would be successful and happy in your life.

tedi widjaja
tedi widjaja

amazing. with carving deer on the rock.

Shannon T
Shannon T

Before my eyes focused on the cactus I thought if was a fire because it's so orange. Very lovely shot.

Sandra Hickman
Sandra Hickman

Oh wow, this is lovely. My kind of shot. The sharpness of the tree trunk and the background at the same time is what I really like whereas the cactus brings the colour and life to the photo.

vimal darji
vimal darji

nice night shot .really good color combination in night. 

Eleanor Best
Eleanor Best

Absolutely beautiful....just love it. keep the good work up.

Lawrence Sibley
Lawrence Sibley

The native artist who etched this image of an antlered animal into this rock face thousands of years ago, saw the same ancient light of the stars in the sky as we see today, but he (very most likely he) saw the world from the cultural perspective of an era very different from our modern technological world.  The petroglyph would have been made as part of a ritual to ensure a successful outcome of the hunt.  The "N" shape over the animal's back would represent spears or arrows.  The image of the animal seems to be in three quarter perspective, and even include two eyes and a grimace of pain, but that may be fortuitous. 


The light-painted cactus in the photo seems to conjure up the presence of the band of hunters, and my brain, which must be predisposed to seeing faces, sees the face of a crazed hunter taking up most of the middle of that cloud overhead.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

There are just so many words to describe these photographs that are viewed each day. Today's one has me looking for more than I have in words, to say what I want!  Not only is it a wonderful picture, but it is too, a look into the ancient past to 'words' they had etched in many places that we  find today. Thanks, so much. j.e.s.  

Theresa H.
Theresa H.

Beautiful photo, but why not tell us where it was taken? It looks like the Red Rock canyon just outside of Las Vegas. What difference does it make? I would think there would be quite a difference in ambient light and the sky and stars between Las Vegas and Zion Canyon, for instance. Just a tech question.

srimanta ray
srimanta ray

wow.... excellent shot..... love it.... regards.... :)Sri

D Simone
D Simone

Beyond beautiful...thank you

Dean Posey
Dean Posey

Nice shot . What is the height of this Petroglyph, by chance ?

Isabel Correia
Isabel Correia

Great photography. great moment captured for posterity. the colors are lush. but looking at the photo, we feel calml and an immense inner peace. The world is indeed a wonderful place with beautiful landscapes in their space. Makes me want to look back and to look for serenity and calm and lucidity that conveys.

Bev Hennager
Bev Hennager

The stars and the vaporous appearance of the clouds help me feel transported back through the eons.  it is not just esthetic; it  evokes my since of  the eternal. 

Judith Blaustein
Judith Blaustein

"Imagine if we could speak to the earliest Americans," I agree, it like communicating with the profound.

Eileen Y.
Eileen Y.

Beautiful, Joseph.  I think I've seen it in different light- Petroglyph State Park?

Gary Conn
Gary Conn

Joseph Thomas 'Petroglyphs':  This photogaph demonstrates the use of 'layers' of interest to grasp the viewers' attention.  In historical and cultural context we think about the American west.  Photograhically we appreciate the technologies at play; stone art; nightsky; lighting effects.  —GaryConn

Syafiq Kama
Syafiq Kama

Perfect photograph, waiting for a right moment, that awesome picture, nice jobs

Janice H.
Janice H.

This is a fantastic photograph!     It is perfect.    Color, texture, beautiful lighting and it tells a story of the present and the past.     Marvelous, I love it!

Sandy Wilt
Sandy Wilt

Amazing photo!

I spend a lot of time in Utah hiking as it is so beautiful and has many petroglyph's I would like to thank you for encouraging me to go get a great shot like this one!

Thanks and keep up the great work of art!

Victor Vasiliu
Victor Vasiliu

The Jurasic stone have 150 mil,years _ Prehystoric homes discovered  1500-1000 B.C._ ( in Colorado )_ So the petroglyps is old may be 3500-3000 years may be ... 

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