When you drive from Salt Lake City west toward Reno, you pass along the edge of the Great Salt Desert, near the Bonneville Salt Flats of speed record fame. There's a rest area off the interstate where you can walk right out onto the desert, like onto an iced over lake in winter. It's an eerie place for someone raised in the east around forests and lakes, a place incongruous with even the surrounding terrain of mountain ranges and basins. Behind you is the roar of traffic speeding westward to the Pacific; in front of you the silent, white expanse drawing your eye to the distant mountains.
My immediate question was why? Not why this desert is here but why does it exist? Apart from the geological and meteorological explanations, the science of the salt desert, I wondered why would the planet need such a place to happen. A reservoir of salt in anticipation of some biological need? Nature's gift to dining tables the world over? A raw material for integral chemical reactions feeding a myriad of life sustaining processes? There's no immediate answer while standing there on the glistening surface.
I made this particular image to reflect the contrasts I saw that day: clear blue sky with clouds hinting at rainfall, the distant mountains laughing at the flat, salt surface, the ridges in the incrustation pointing off into the distance as if to entice the naive traveler to visit far away destinations that could never be reached. At a glance all the elements seem to belong together at this place; a longer examination ponders the question of how they actually co-exist.
Much of nature seems to make sense in how it all fits together but every once in a while you stumble upon a small enclave that managed to stand apart from the perceived structure, a rogue environment defiantly making its own way through the world around it. Sometimes for a landscape photographer it's the rogue element that gives the most interesting images.