Two photographs of Monument Valley, which is the best?

I want your opinion!

I was recently in Monument Valley in Arizona and I created these two drastically different images of the landscape with the mittens. Photographed only 50m apart, these two images raise several questions about composition, viewer opinion and human impact on our environment. I want to know which image you prefer. Image #1: The Cedar Log and Mittens or Image #2: The Parking Lot.

Which one do you prefer and why? Leave your comment below.

74 thoughts on “Two photographs of Monument Valley, which is the best?

  1. From Engie

    I just read the results, and I agree. I would use the 2nd picture if you want to make people think. It is a great one to show how people try to urbanize nature……you see a wide street, one that you would see in a big city, but instead of the buildings or skyscrapers that you normally expect to see at the end of a street, you have a beautiful landscape. It is surreal. You actually wonder if it is graffitti on a wall in New York….(but obviously it isn’t).

  2. I like the second one. The first one looks like from any nature lover’s calendar. The second one is more interesting.

  3. Why should I choose? Both photographs I feel are beautiful but so different. It feels like comparing apples with pears.
    Well okay then, the second photo for me is exciting and mysterious. Surrealistic indeed.

    goodbye, Sija

  4. I have to agree that the parking lot shot is the the more interesting and would push me to reflect. The calendar shot is soothing, but not as much as just going out for a walk. It’s wistfull in this respect.

  5. Without a doubt I “prefer” photograph 1. It shows the beautiful grandeur of nature. Photograph 2 is of course illustrates how much disregard we have for nature. I’m an old guy so perhaps I don’t need to be reminded of how we are degrading the planet – I see that every day.

    As a teacher I would suggest that people, especially today, and especially young people, have so little contact with the beauty of nature (and so much contact with the urban/human built world) that photograph 2 may not have as much impact as you think. Most people don’t even know that the setting in photograph 1 exists. People have to know “what they’re missing” before they will be motivated to take action.

    Think of if this way – Photo 2 is especially dramatic BECAUSE it follows a viewing of photo 1. You view #1 think “beautiful” then view photo 2 and think “how sad.” On it’s own, the unfamiliar viewer of #2 would not appreciate what is “at stake”.

    I suppose not an option, but the pair of photos should be exhibited together.

  6. For me, what does it is the contrast. I would anly vote for both photographs together…

  7. They’re both stunning, but I would say it depends on the context for which you’re planning to use them. Personally the aesthetic of the first shot appeals to me more than the second.

  8. #2. It implicates man in nature, affirms a relationship. The first one reinforces a notion of distance, nature as exterior. There’s also a nice symbolism to the arrows and the crosswalk, it suggests a choice / agency on our part. Also, nice composition!

  9. I prefer the fist picture because the beauty of the environment. I like the second but it cuts the beauty of the scenery. JN

  10. I like the second photo, of the crossroads. The photo implies that the viewer can choose a “third way” (off the edge of the road) that has nothing to do with the built environment (the arrows pointing forwards and backwards). The “STOP” sign invites the person travelling to consider their choice before acting upon it.

    For me, the best thing about the photo is that it is an illusion that portrays an illusion. I can look at the desert and mesas depicted beyond the edge of the roadway and believe that they are separate and apart from the built environment, and that there is an “edge” beyond which the built environment does not penetrate. In truth, the road is not the limit of humanity’s impact on nature, but a boundary line that has effectively killed the “wilderness” by hemming it in and reducing it to pockets of “landscape” amongst an endlessly linked basket-weave of zooming cars. I don’t think that I can comfortably call the mesas a reflection of “wilderness/nature” if my feet are planted on asphalt while I look at them… or can I? The composition makes me question whether what I am seeing is “wilderness” at all, because it so effectively makes the concepts of “wilderness” and “nature” problematic. I think the photo does this by showing that there IS no “nature” or “wilderness” absent the juxtaposition of places that symbolize these concepts with the built environment, and that “wilderness” and “nature” aren’t objective facts that exist independent of human thought, behaviours and practices, but are rather malleable contingencies that people manipulate for their own convenience when confronted with vistas beyond the “edge” of the built environment that so many human beings live in and navigate on a daily basis…

  11. I prefer the first. I like the all-natural element in the shot. For me, it’s more dramatic and striking even than the second. The reason being that the contrast, the movement, the texture of it all is organic. It’s natural– gradual and eternal. The second is a good photo, but the first is really moving.

  12. I quite like both, but believe the second one to be the significantly better photograph. However, if you plan on exhibiting them together (the obvious choice?) I don’t think it matters which one is “better” – what matters is how they work together to give the viewer the impression of falsity, the thin-ness of representation, the “imposition of man on the landscape”, and the disneyification of the scenic.

  13. Many great comments. Thanks everyone for adding their comments and I really like the insight that it has shown. I intend to use these images in the future. I don’t know what the final count was for images, but I think it was pretty close to equal.

  14. Is 50m meters or miles? I thought it was meters when I read it but my friend pointed out that the mittens seem placed really differently in the second photo. (I think they are stronger together than apart)

  15. Hi Naomi,
    Thanks for the comment. It is about 50 meters apart, the classical image is photographed down the hill from the parking lot. Your friend was partially right, because that image includes another mitten not seen in the parking lot shot. Thanks for you interest, I hope that you get a chance to go there some day. Robert

  16. Both photos are beautiful — my mom spent a fair amount of time out there and was devastated by the parking lot shot. take care!

  17. It depends on what your intention is…If you want to show beauty and grandeur # 1 is best. If you have the intention to tell people to stop and consider this location, #2 is best. Your intention is the key to the answer.

  18. The first image we have seen many times before. The second image is a new perspective that shows you think outside the box.

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