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Field Notes
Jack W. Dykinga
Photograph by Patricio Robles Gil
Jack W. Dykinga
Interview by Cassandra Franklin-Barbajosa

What was your best experience during this assignment?

It's a special, spiritual feeling to be on top of the Sierra del Carmen all by myself and watch the sunset. Too many people lose track of how important solitude is as a component of life. They bury themselves in noise, music, and headsets and don't listen to the heartbeat of the land. Get a feel for a place, and let people taste it in a photograph. That's my philosophy of landscape photography.

What was your worst experience during this assignment?

I had planned a canoe trip through Santa Elena and Mariscal canyons, but, as fate would have it, I got very sick with the flu after day one. By the time I was well into the canyon where I couldn't get out, I couldn't even walk 15 feet (five meters). Then the wind came up at such intensity that it picked up our hundred-pound (50 kilograms) canoe and blew it down the beach more than a hundred feet (30 meters). I spent the whole night sleepless and holding the tent off my face.

What was the oddest experience you encountered during this assignment?

I found a living rock cactus after hiking along a hillside. It looks exactly like a rock except when it's in bloom, so I marked it and decided to return the next day when the flower would be fully open. But when I got there, I discovered that wild pigs or rodents had eaten the blossom. That gives you an idea of how transient life along the Rio Grande really is.