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Field Notes
Bridger Jack Mesa
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Frans Lanting

What was your best experience in the field covering this story?

Flying over the Colorado Plateau and seeing world-famous landscapes from a bird's-eye view makes everything look different. I searched for the structure of the landscape and the geology that lies underneath, which surpasses mere scenic nature. The plateau becomes a living landscape when you view the forces that shape it.

What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?

In February, you really freeze while flying in a small plane with the window open. I had to stick my camera out of the window for extended periods of time, and the temperature combined with the wind chill that comes from the speed of the plane makes you feel like a block of ice. Shutting the window to warm up can cost precious time and photographs, especially when the light is good. I was there to photograph, not to be comfortable. But boy, did that really hurt!

What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?

One helicopter ride took us through different climates and seasons as we flew from the desert up to the highest elevations. We'd start off in what seemed like summer and, pretty soon, we'd be surrounded by autumn-like canyons and vegetation. Five minutes later, snow appeared in the high elevations. On the walk to the helicopter, you wanted to wear shorts and flip-flops, but you knew it was going to be cold when you reached the heights of Bryce Canyon.