The Essence of Place – Defined

Palo Dura Canyon

Palo Dura Canyon Abstract © 2014 Bo Mackison

The Essence of Place, Defined

Essence of Place: A limited selection of photographs that, when combined, offer a unique glimpse into a place. The mood or emotion portrayed in the place is emphasized, and included are elements that are unique to the area. People also can be included to illustrate culture or connection.

Abstract. An abstract uses form, texture and color. Emphasis is more on the composition and less on the subject.

Landscape:  The term landscape represents a segment of nature from a single point of view. It encompasses land, and can also include animals, buildings, and people.

Intimate Landscape: Photographs typically do not include a horizon line, or when the horizon is present, conveys only a hint of where the image is photographed. The grandeur of nature is captured in a smaller space. Less is more.

Still Life: A photo which depicts inanimate subjects. Includes common objects in nature, such as rocks, sticks, leaves. Simplicity is key.

Macro-Photography: A close-up image of a subject. Technically, the image is at a 1:1 ratio (life-size) or larger, magnified up to 5 times the life-size image.

Wabi-Sabi:A Japanese aesthetic of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete…” ~ Leonard Koren. Includes objects connected to the earth: rustic materials, rich in raw texture; effects of weathering and aging by sun, wind, heat, cold; rusty, tarnished, warped, cracked or peeling surfaces; faded colors, muddy tones, or grays/blacks; simple, yet poetic. (source: Leonard Koren)

Combinations are also possible, such as:

Intimate landscape + portrait: A portrait of a person or animal which includes landscape to provide a context for the subject, or defines a landscape by contrasting the human perspective in a natural setting.

To capture the essence of place, I did some basic research and pulled key words and concepts for which the region is particularly noted.

Here are my notes:

Palo Duro means “hard wood”. Southern high plains. Rim of canyon is shortgrass prairie, canyon floor has more trees, shrubs, tall grasses. Canyon is 800 feet deep, formed by erosion from Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River. Rock layers of gypsum (white) and claystone (red) and is called “Spanish skirts”. “Grand Canyon of Texas” – second largest canyon in US. Erosion shaped lands, caps of erosion resistant sandstone creating mesas, pinnacles, buttes.



Palo Duro Canyon © 2014 Bo Mackison

Palo Duro Canyon

“Spanish Skirts” © 2010 Bo Mackison


Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River  © 2014 Bo Mackison

Intimate Landscape:

Palo Dura Canyon

Juniper Tree in Red Canyon © 2014 Bo Mackison

Intimate Landscape + Portrait:

Palo Dura Canyon

Karate Chop © 2014 Bo Mackison



Yucca Seed Heads © 2014 Bo Mackison

Still life.

Palo Dura Canyon

Red Earth © 2014 Bo Mackison

Wabi sabi.


Twisted Wood © 2014 Bo Mackison




About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. This is exquisite.

  2. Way cool. Such an interesting montague of images. Gives you a much different feel for the place. Enjoyed it much

  3. Nothing short of amazing. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and the nature that surrounds you. XO

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