The first thing that stands out in the imagery by John Morey is its simplicity. They are the images that we might see every day as we go about the duties of life, yet John has lifted these images to new levels. “Claude Monet said it best,” he told Travelled Paths recently. “For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”
It is that life which Morey brings in a wide variety of landscapes. Whether it is the brilliant yellow of an Aspen tree that has succumbed to the coming Autumn or the brilliance of the night sky against a desert backdrop, his unique vision shows us the way life could be if we just would slow down a little bit every day.
Finding peace is the inspiration that Morey finds in every image. Sometimes that comes after spending 26 hours in bad weather. At other times, it comes from the luck that only a photographer seems to have once during a lifetime. Either way, the strength of peace and harmony clearly outweighs any other message that could be received with his amazing shot.
Published in Arizona Highways Magazine, two photography books, and having received an Honorable Mention in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the U.S. Wilderness Act, the credentials that Morey has are proven and sound. Through it all, however, you’ll still find him driven to chase the colors that every season will bring his way.
“Often to me, the natural beauty of a place, a vision, a mind, a word, a genuine laugh, a solemn glance, a grain of sand or even scent of pine — and especially a lovely woman or sometimes nothing at all — can remind me of love and hate; dreams and remorse; creativity and blindness,” Morey says. “In these vulnerable moments, it rips at my soul and steals another infinite part of my heart, tethering my spirit to it, to wander till my return like a lingering ghost meant to never let me forget – and I realize I have a story to tell.”
The Report Of Peace And Sunshine. Within an hour of arrival at the lake, violent storms forced me into hiding all day. More storms came again in the morning, raging for the rest of the day. Just before sunset, the inside of my shelter turned ablaze. I heard someone near the shore yell out, “Rainbowwwww!”. I then saw it for myself and yelled same, “Rainbowwwww!” After 26 hours of bad weather, this image was my reward – and I was at Peace.
Autumn On Havasu Creek. The water in Havasu Creek, located in the Havasupai Native American reservation in the Western end of the Grand Canyon, is actually this color of blue. This is due to large amounts of calcium carbonate in the water that formed the limestone that lines the creek and reflects its color so strongly. This also gives the creek an interesting feature as it is ever changing.
Lightning Mirth. The thrust of this monsoon storm was centered right over my land. While trying to ride the storm out, I gave up when the hail started and escaped 5 miles north to this peak, where I could watch the storm’s profile from safety. When the storm was over, I returned to my land, and the other locals in the area told me that it was the worst in over two years. While falling asleep to the sound of flooding washes nearby that usually never flow, I continued to smile with mirth.
Surrounding Atmosphere. Normally a place with an excessive amount of clear blue skies and sunny days, I knew the success of my visit would depend on a different surrounding atmosphere to produce what I imagined. With great luck, the sky, the light, and air all cooperated beyond my imagination, for both sunset and sunrise.
Apologies For Cathedral’s Bride. After getting through the worst of storm, I finally started descending into Yosemite Valley for the first time. Often the first waterfall seen by visitors to Yosemite Valley, and quite iconic and heavily photographed, I hoped for something special to set my imagery apart.
Essence And Substance. During certain times of day and year, the sun will position itself directly over the narrow and deep gap of this canyon allowing sunbeams accented by dust to occasionally shine through. During other times of the year, flash floods during Arizona’s monsoon season sometimes causes this canyon to flash flood, and deposit debris in the most unlikely of places, as seen here.
Looking For My Distant Self. It was a long day in Coyote Buttes, of the Vermilion Cliffs / Paria Canyon Wilderness, on the Arizona and Utah border. As I packed up my equipment in the moonlit starry sky, I stopped one last time and captured this image as a capstone of my shining experience here. Later in post-processing, as a matter of rare self-indulgence, I gently tweaked the bright planet in the sky with a small star-burst to symbolize my thoughtful moments here. Perhaps someday I will truly understand my own self, but for now I will accept my marveling at the cosmos, which seem so much closer.
My Peace I Give Unto You. Photographed near Lockett Meadow, in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness of Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. This is perhaps the most enchanted forest I’ve ever experienced, and this scene immediately brought to mind the words of one of my personal heroes, Scottish naturalist John Muir: “I beheld the countless hosts of the forests hushed and tranquil, towering above one another on the slopes of the hills like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, ‘My peace I give unto you.’”
A Cat of Many Names. In speaking of the many names of cougar, one folktale tells the story of Native Americans who would bring pelts to trade in what is now New York City. When the Europeans and white settlers would question why only the skins of females were brought for trade, the Native Americans explained that the males lived far away in the mountains, playing a joke of sorts on the naïve newcomers—this is why cougars, who are not specific to mountain regions at all, came to be known as “mountain lions”.
Big Broomer. Desert bighorn sheep are stocky, heavy-bodied sheep, similar in size to mule deer; and horn size is a symbol of rank among males. Many rams, such as this fellow, break off the ends of their horns often during horn clashes with other rams for dominance and breeding-rights, and also as a way to keep the horn from curling so much around, to prevent them from losing crucial peripheral vision and being more susceptible to predation.
Parley With Authority And Rebuke. Photographed in Northern Arizona, in the late afternoon just before sunset. The sun was still bright, but on the other side of the animal, thus making a good exposure of the animal, terrain, and sky difficult at best. Knowing this, I chose to focus on the coyote, but expose for the bright sky behind, and create this wonderful silhouette. I then converted to monochrome to give the impression of night-time scene. Coyotes at night, when the whole world belongs to them, parley to each other with their higher, sharper voices, like a old council of clowns, full of authority and rebuke.
If you’d like to learn more about John Morey and his work, be sure to visit his website directly for more outstanding nature photography. You can also keep up to date on his photography adventures through his Facebook page.