To share or not to share

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 46 Comments

Flowers along Highway 60 near Superior, Arizona.

Flowers along Highway 60 near Superior, Arizona.

I have linked here to Carol Leigh California Wildflower Hotsheet a number of times over the years and have always found the hot-sheet and her forum to be an extremely valuable resource.  Yesterday it was brought to my attention that Carol stopped maintaining the hot sheet, a decision that may become permanent.   She writes:

Right now I cannot in good conscience continue to distribute “where-to-go” wildflower information. Private property is being destroyed. Flowers are being trampled. Rude and inconsiderate behavior abounds.

I don’t know Carol, but it is clear she has a real love and passion for wildflowers.  Although I will miss her updates, I respect her decision to put the wildflowers first.  But it does raise a larger question;  how much should we share, and as photographers, are we helping to destroy  special places by publicizing them?

I have had this discussion with many photographers over the years, and have some photographer friends who keep everything close to the proverbial  (photo) vest, and others who share most anything.  I personally tend to share far more then most, and I think it is a big reason why my photo blog has become popular.  Not just locations, but techniques and most anything I know.  There are topics in which I have drawn a distinct line, the main one that comes to mind is the location of winter animal sightings for animals like lynx – because I know a trappers love of animals directly competes with my own.

But in recent years I have decided to keep some physical locations private.  This amazing spot in Valley of the Fire is one that immediately comes to mind.  I would like to say I have some noble motivation to keep the location secret to help protect it, but frankly, often motivation is largely selfish.  I like the idea of having an amazing location all to myself.  To have a spot like that crawling with people, muting the colors with their footsteps would “ruin” it a bit for me, and could ruin it for generations to come.

But there is more to my motivation.  I like to think of myself as a photographer, and tend to avoid the label businessman, but truth be told I am in business and this is our sole source of income, and frankly the fewer people who have photographs of an area I have found,  the better it is for me.  Certainly Ford would never share a discovery with Chevy, and no one would expect them to, but the same expectation isn’t always applied to photographers.  I have been surprised at the questions other photographers have asked me over the years, and disappointed in how few take the time to email a quick “thanks” in response – more often then not I end up asking myself why did I just share that information?

I know there isn’t a right or wrong answer, and my opinion will likely continue to ebb and flow over the years, but I’m interested in how much others are willing to share and why?

Comments 46

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  2. This is a hard line to walk Ron. I agree with you that some places are great to share, but there are a few that are nice to have as havens for yourself. The Valley of Fire is a great place to shoot, but I would be glad to have not many people really get out and explore what is there to see.

    So perhaps we have to have a truthing system in place to see would will use this information wisely rather than who will just trample the flowers so to say.

    I have appreciated your information in the past so thanks! I have tried to only use it for good stuff and to tread lightly, but not everyone chooses to act that way or has the ability to.

    Keep up the shooting, I really like your work!

  3. I think you have been generous and helpful to anyone, and everyone you meet or who asks for information, but I agree that you must use cautious discretion. I think you have walked that line very well, your dad and I are very proud of you as a photographer and as a fellow human being.

    Much love.

  4. I would be hard pressed to think that you’re alone in this ebb and flow of thought Ron. I have similar debates in my mind on the subject. Nature and landscape photography is often about the experience of discovery and enjoying a small private encounter with nature. I hardly think of this as being selfish rather how individuals in the classic sense commune with nature. Just because you have a camera and a blog doesn’t change that fact. The answer to how much to share is a personal one. I have no problem in sharing readily public information. The truly special places remain private for now.

    If you saw on Twitter yesterday I wrote Carol, but have yet to hear back. I may just share my thoughts on the matter tomorrow whether I hear back from her or not.

  5. This is really well said, and I agree with your thoughts. Like several other photographers with a large web presence, you are a very approachable guy, and I know of others (myself included) who are very appreciative of the advice you’ve given on locations, etc. Our recent conversation about Anza-Borrego comes to mind. But, anyone with any sense of logic couldn’t blame you for choosing to keep some things private. I think its a prudent decision on your part, but maintaining the balance can be difficult.

    So, if I haven’t said so, thank you for all your advice and helping to create a photographic community that is open, friendly, and helpful.

    Cheers,
    Greg

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    Thanks Chris, I appreciate the comment.

    Thanks Mom!

    Hi Jim – thanks for bringing this to my attention on Twitter yesterday. I didn’t realize you were contacting her – I look forward to hearing her response and reading what your thoughts on the subject.

    I don’t know Carol – but a few years ago she took the time to track me down to report an image of mine that had been clearly stolen and I have always been grateful that she made such an effort for a complete stranger.

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  8. I had no idea there were sites on the web like that! Now I’m sad that it has been taken down–I’ve tried to locate specific flower patches before and just didn’t know how to Google it, exactly. Do you know of other websites like that?

    I do understand why she’d take it down, though. And I also understand why you’d want to protect some of your little “discoveries.” It’s okay, too–part of the fun in photography is finding places other people haven’t, and just by showing us your photos you’re challenging people to seek out their own places.

    Still, I’m curious about particular flower growth in Oregon. 😀

  9. I do share a lot BUT not all. I think common sense is a key factor to decide what to share and what not. I know many photographers which just wait to see what I’m doing, next day they are their too. Not that this is a problem BUT when you do all the ground work (which also costs time=money) then you kick yourself by sharing certain information. Sharing is great, social networks are great BUT I believe some of us (me included) sometimes go a little over board.
    I’m a full time pro photographer for over 25 years now – it is my only income and in times were it is hard enough to survive (or you only can survive by working 16 hours everyday) I think we have to think how we can share between each other WITHOUT taking anything away from a colleague – yes, this is possible, we talked about it.
    My opinion!
    Cheers
    Rolf

  10. Thanks for the mention Ron!

    I really hadn’t thought about the business side of sharing info. I tend to believe that most people see and shoot things differently so what’s the harm in sharing? Then I remember instances of ‘followers’ who just wandered behind taking the same shots – one particular day in Death Valley I watched poor Gary Crabbe go into full evassive mode with a guy who was literally shooting over his shoulder. Gary suddenly got very excited about shooting shadows and clods of dirt. Even though the guy couldn’t see an image there he agreed and kept shooting over Gary’s shoulder. It never would have been an issue if we hadn’t mentioned where we were headed when we met the guy in the gas station at Stove Pipe Wells.

    I hate to think of having to become a Scrooge, an information hoarder. Perhaps the answer is in between. Share with those who you know or have a reputation for taking care and hope that those people will do the same.

  11. Great post Ron. As a nature/conservation photographer and sometimes guidebook writer, I too struggle with this. I remember speaking once with a recreation specialist in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire about this topic, and he related how an article in Backpacker about a certain backcountry site significantly increased visitation to that site for several years afterward, requiring an increase in ranger patrols to the area and the need to designate several areas off-limits for re-vegetation efforts. People weren’t necessarily behaving badly – the area just couldn’t handle the extra use. Like you, my personality almost forces me to share info as much as possible, but there are occasions where I’ll keep a location to myself if it is in a relatively pristine state. I think the key is to educate your readers about the sensitive nature of an area and the ethics involved in visiting there. Keep up the good work!

  12. Not to throw stones at hobbiest’s (I’m speaking as a very dedicated hobbiest that has a day job), I have noticed lately that there are two groups. One that tracks sites like Carol’s or some of the blogs, heads out to photograph and pays very little attention to what they are doing – ignoring no trespassing signs, climbing barbed wire fences, driving down peoples driveways… The other group tends to head out and find great areas to photograph on their own or has an inventory of their own of areas they like to photograph. I find that the later group tends to be a little more dedicated to their hobby and in general, much more respectful of the locale and of other photographers. I think it is okay to politely & safely educate those that are not being respectful. Being a hobbiest , I also feel that it is very important to be respectful of professionals when they are trying to make a living. The flip side is that pro’s get frustrated and stop or limit sharing. Being someone that has learned a lot about technique from the blogs like yours, Michael Frye, Dan Mitchell… I hope it doesn’t reach that point. A plus side is that when you reach a level in which you can create your own photographs as oppossed to copying others, it becomes much more rewarding and enjoyable.

  13. Sad to see the hotsheet end. Does it seem a bit ironic though that some of the info is still available on disk for a price? I’m completely empathetic to her premise, although I find it difficult to believe that the nature lover/photographers who sought out her info are the major source of the problems. Seems she could use the popularity of her hotsheet as a positive teaching tool and enlist readers to help educate others when they see them abusing sites. This could create a win-win situation rather than deprive loyal followers.

    Be that as it may, as I learn and become more obsessed with photography with each passing day, I deeply appreciate the generosity of those more experienced and willing to share their insights, both in technique and in location tips. However, with the proliferation of amateur photographers these days, coupled with the ease of info-sharing through social networking, I do worry whether the areas I would eventually like to visit will still exist in their former state, so I also appreciate the secrecy some choose and welcome the challenge of discovering some secret spots of my own. It would be a shame if the only way we can eventually get great photos is to edit details in or out rather than let our camera simply capture the scenery before us. Sadly, for all the good there always seems to be a downside. One can only hope that posts like this will increase awareness.

  14. Ron:

    A very thoughtful post. I completely understand the tug of war between the want to share and the result of sharing. There is both good & bad that must be balanced. Simply put, the more sensitive an area, the more we as photographers must act as protective stewards. There are the fields of wild flowers, but also look at what has become of some of the areas in the SW, like the tourist influx at the wahweap hoodoos.

    Rebecca’s comment made me laugh, but it brings up the point where that exists, the strong pull of the me-too photographer that will “flock” to anywhere the other photographers go.

    As I said in my own recent blog post, we each need to find our own balance point between what we share, and what we keep to ourselves.

  15. Hi Ron-

    A good topic for a good conversation. I dont think there is anything wrong with sharing but to a point. I would ask myself a couple things: 1) if sharing a location would bring hordes of others that might otherwise have no clue about the location. 2) If they did come would they be responsible enough to ensure its protection? 3) If it is too delicate of a location then I would not share. 4) If I did mention this location would I be inviting hords to come and copy what I shot?

    If it is a location that really only has one shot and I think I am the first, then I would not share. This is different than capturing a killer redwoods shot on a foggy morning and sharing that it was Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Protecting the info about our one of a kind shots and protecting the environment we shoot are both important considerations. The world is huge but the markets are not, so sharing to much can increase competition. Often, it is only a matter of time before most secret spots get discovered by someone who shares it.

    Charlie Borland

  16. You know, those are really good points Ron and I have had the same.

    I get emails from students from time to time and actually have responded for most part but usually do not even get a thanks or an acknowledgement for the feedback. I don’t want to be perceived as vain but I have become more selective in how I respond to people I do not know as a result. You never know what motives others have.

  17. Ron thanks for all the ideas, training and help that you give. I enjoy seeing where you are going and whats going on. I may never go to some of these places and it’s nice to see what things look like. It means a lot to me to have you take the time to look at my photo’s and comment on them. It’s nice to see whats in Alaska through your eyes as I will only get there a few times and this July happens to be be of them.

  18. Quite a dilema. On the one hand, budding photographers [like myself] are looking for as much help as possible to get into the hobby (or business), yet on the other hand the protection of these valuable assets is vital — not just for the business of photography, but also for the preservation of the Earth as untouched by Man.

    I think those of us who cherish this knowledge have a responsibility to entrust it only with others who share that sense of responsibility to protect that value. I’ve already found myself in the position of deciding to not share location data for fear that others would not value it as I do.

  19. Great post, Ron – very reasoned and well thought out. No matter how much or how little we have to offer, we all face the same dilemma of how much to share, and to whom.

    There are no easy answers. But hopefully all is not lost as long as some of us are thinking along these lines.

  20. I agree Ron and I respect Carol’s decision as well. It’s a shame it has to come to that but it’s apparently necessary in today’s world. There are some things I don’t mind sharing since they’re printed plainly on guide books and maps, especially of this area. But there are other spots that if I happen to stumble upon myself by just following my own instincts I’ll keep it to myself and if anyone asks me where I got the photo I’ll be as general as I can be.

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    Wow, so many wonderful comments! I need to spend a little more time re-reading them. The list of photographers looks more like the table of contents for Outdoor Photographer – but great comments from everyone, thanks so much!

    Ron

  22. My friend and I have a website where we share trip reports from outings to the desert, mostly the Mojave. When we first started we wanted to tell all with GPS coordinates and maps. Our reasoning was that we thought it was too hard to find some of the sites we wanted to visit, so we’d help others by leading them there with directions. Luckily we learned our lesson early on and are more selective with what information we’re willing to provide. We rarely share location information for rock art sites unless they are already well known and easy to find. We’ve even gone so far as to mix up the order of photos to keep people from being able to easily find a sensitive site. Hopefully if someone has to work to find a site they will be more likely to respect and protect it.

  23. A great topic. As an amateur who is pretty serious I’ve run into both extremes from the seasoned pros. I know a well know photographer who is quite forthcoming with where things are, even to the point of drawing me a map. Now, he knows I am 1) not going to replicate his exact photo of the spot and 2) going to treat the place well. The other extreme involves a simple thing like the famous arch in the Alabama Hills that has been shot to death. Well, I had always wanted to shoot it but did not know where it was. I asked a very well known photographer where it was and he told me he couldn’t do that. Oh well. I decided to find it on my own, which I did (admittedly it made it more satisfying for me to shoot it because I had found it on my own).

    You are one of the most forthcoming photographers I follow but I can certainly understand not wanting to share every single place. As I don’t make a living in photography, I tend to be very open because I feel this world is for everyone and should be shared, not hidden. Maybe I would feel differently if I had to feed my family with the income from my photos.

    Thanks for the blog and for the information you post. BTW, a couple of days ago I drove out to the Anza-Borrego desert to shoot at sunrise in Glorieta Canyon. There are tons of beavertail and barrell cactus blooming there as well as octotillo. Fun!

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  26. I only like to share spots with people I know well. I find nothing sadder than to stumble on an amazing natural piece of beauty only to return years later to find it overrun with tourists. A friend recently took me to an extremely hidden part of the Everglades that virtually no one knows about that contains the rare ghost orchid. I promised I would never share this with the public and I never will(except my wife, since I don’t want to wander around there by myself for safety reasons!).

    There is/was a famous hidden area of Northern Italy that I stumbled upon many years ago while trekking through the Italian Alps. It’s the most beautiful part of Italy I’ve ever seen. There were almost no tourists–just vacationing Italians who were more than happy to spend time with the few “outsiders” that ventured in. I’ve since seen pictures in many magazines and even a Rick Steves travel show where he goes here, and they all refer to this place as the “hidden” jewel of Italy. But with all that promotion of it being hidden I wonder just how hidden it really is today. I’d hate to think it’s lost all the charm and is now overrun with tourist shops.

    Call me selfish, but I don’t mind keeping exceptional places of beauty to myself or to a few select others. The Internet has made everything so global that one innocuous blog will let the entire world find your little secrets.

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    Thanks Niki – I understand.

    Hi Steve – Thanks. Glad to hear Glorieta Canyon is looking good – that is a pretty area.

  28. As much as I like a shortcut and to have everything dumped in my lap, too often “you should share” is really code for “I’m lazy and selfish, just tell me already”. The fact that people really want to know is a testament to the value of the information you hold.

    If one pays attention, it’s clear how much effort goes into this- you’re always on the move and always scouting, hiking, driving, shooting, why share all this with a demographic that will be happy just to have their name in a gutter credit at worst and undercut your livelihood at best?

    We receive a lot of inquiries/info dump requests that I can make disappear with the simplest of means- when someone emails us for advice, an internship, technique info, I give them some sort of homework- nothing big, but something that requires 10-15 mins on their part and guess what, voila! they disappear. It’s fine to ask me for the same or more effort, but when the roles are reversed, I just hear crickets.

    I’m not against sharing at all , but as the value of the information goes up, the population that sees it goes down- we don’t keep anything from our interns and we don’t share too much of the really good stuff on forums and the like. We too have to pay the bills with photography alone and it gives you a different perspective from the “information should be free” camp.

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    Hi Greg – I think you are right, it often is code for “I’m lazy and selfish, just tell me already”. I like your idea of asking people to do something – great way to weed out the lazy, from the ones that really care. I really do like to help and share, and will always be grateful to those who did the same for me starting out, and I see it as a way to reciprocate. You idea would allow me to share with those who really appreciate it. Thanks for your comment.

    Ron

  30. It is a great idea to keep your awesome locations a secret, since it would prevent others from trying to copy your work and devalue your pics. We can still learn from your photos, as far as composition, exposure, etc.

    I like the challenge of finding my own locations, and doing my own thing. I am not the kind of artist who would try to recreate someone else’s moment. I want to create my own unique moments; if my work one day inspires within someone the desire to imitate what I have done, then I will consider myself flattered 🙂 And, I will keep my lips sealed as to the coordinates, if it’s not obvious in my pics. 😉

  31. Hi Ron:
    I like to share inspiration and motivation, not locations. This issue is similar guide books, I think. Many climbing and trail guides have been chastised for providing *too little* information, which for me, is just perfect. I prefer the sense of adventure and the experience of discovering things for myself. Same goes for my photography. I’ve spent years exploring, adventuring, and finding MY special places away from the “hotspots”. I don’t want to see these spots inundated with leg-locked tripods and picnickers – why should I freely publish this information for others?

    I’ll share my techniques; I’ll teach any skills that my clients or others want to learn. But I will never tell a photographer about MY spots, where exactly to stand, or what to photograph. Self-discovery and determination drive photographic growth.

  32. I can see your point, particularly in regards to the fact that *this is your source of income* and sharing secret photo locations could (though I have doubts how much) affect your income. But as far as preserving a place…well, that I’m not so sure about.

    What Carol is talking about here goes beyond sharing information…this has to do with educating people and promoting preservation as well as respect for private property.

    I think most people visiting your blog here as well as Carol’s site are more than likely nature lovers, but there are also some over zealous photogs out there who get blinded by that desire to get ‘The Shot’.

    I don’t know, I really hope Carol reconsiders her stance here… I really enjoyed her site. Sharing with others peak times for wild flowers as well as fall colors (which she also has shared on her website) can be valuable to those of us who are avid nature photographers, but don’t have the time to continuously explore various regions. Some of which may be a very long distance from our homes. Think of a dozen or so photogs making a 4-5 hour drive out to some obscure area 3 or 4 weekends in a row to get that peak color whereas her site could narrow that down to likely 1 trip for most of those photogs. That’s a lot of carbon saved (assuming most of us can’t afford Priuses.)

    The more I think about this the more I’m irked by her decision. I can see where she’s coming from but I disagree with her method. My suggestion to her would be to require people to join her site (don’t just let anyone read your site; kind of like a Yahoo Group, force people to join and be approved first…make them log in) and in doing so have them go through a very specific agreement…sort of a 10 commandments of nature photography:

    Thou shalt not trample fields of flowers…Thou shalt not invade private land…Thou shalt lecture any moron who IS trampling fields of flowers…etc…

    Make people sign up and agree to those things so that people are more aware. If you have enough people who are educated, they will more likely help educate those obtuse peddle stompers who are don’t realize (or don’t care.) I’m sure not everyone visiting these locations are doing so because they read about it on her site. This is an opportunity to encourage others to help educate people on preserving nature.

    Another thing she could consider is giving certain areas a rest (IOW, not reporting on them) for a season or two to let the area recover a bit. If an area is reported to get too much traffic, then just omit info regarding that area for a while.

    I don’t know…just some thoughts.

  33. Hi, this is Carol Leigh, known to some as the “Wicked Witch of the West” and to others as the most recent recipient of the Sierra Club “Hooray for Nature” award. I’ve received hundreds of e-mails since shutting down the Wildflower Hotsheet, was interviewed by NPR Radio’s “All Things Considered” this afternoon (where I probably ended up sounding like a doofus), and am being alerted by all sorts of people whenever they read something about me online. Such as your blog, Ron. It’s been a roller coaster ride these past couple days.

    You’ve got a good discussion going about should we or should we not share “our” places with others. Since 1979 that’s what I’ve been doing, publishing newsletters, guides, books, and websites that basically say, “Wow! Look at this! And here’s how to get there to photograph it. And here’s a map to help you out.”

    I discontinued all the “where to go” publishing to concentrate more on my own photography and to teach online photo classes. The only two things that remain are my Wildflower and my Fall Foliage Hotsheets. The closure of the Wildflower Hotsheet has been 8-10 years in the making as over the years I received more and more comments about crowds in the wildflower fields, people jumping fences, trespassing, etc. I wondered how much I was contributing to the destruction of places I loved. Then people began telling me that they weren’t contributing reports for the Wildflower Hotsheet because when they did, their favorite spots were being overrun. That hurt.

    85% of the e-mails I’ve received so far have been understanding and supportive. 14.5% of the e-mails have been supportive, but think I should maintain the Wildflower Hotsheet and use it to educate people. And then 0.5% demand that I put it back up immediately. I am thankful for the 85% of supportive e-mails. But I take VERY seriously the 14.5% of them that offer suggestions and solutions.

    I’m too emotionally wrapped up in this right now to make an objective and dispassionate decision. But I sincerely appreciate the fine suggestions I’ve received and I’m enjoying reading the intelligent discussions that are going on here in your blog. Someone (LindaB) pointed out the irony of my still selling my “California Wildflower Locations” CD at the website. And yeah, I see the irony there, too. But the CD was created in 2001 and hasn’t been updated. Those are locations that people know about anyway, so I’m not telling people anything new, nor telling them that NOW, RIGHT THIS MINUTE, IS THE PEAK OF THE BLOOM! BETTER GET YOUR BUTT OVER THERE!

    And Steve is “irked” by my decision to close the Wildflower Hotsheet, and I can understand that. I’m irked, too. But I tried really hard to do the right thing right now. I’m sad and angry and confused. My idea in 1996 for a Wildflower Hotsheet was brilliant, if I do say so myself. And this free service was widely used for 15 years. Times have changed. There are more people on the planet. There are more people with cameras. There’s information available and being exchanged 24/7. And, as Greg mentioned, there are a lot of people who are lazy and want the info dumped in their lap(top)s. But oh, what wonderful information it is, isn’t it? I see so clearly BOTH sides of this dilemma that it hurts.

    What’s good about all this is that it’s made people more aware of the consequences of their actions. (Which sounds self-righteous, but I do not intend it that way.) Based on all the “thank you” e-mails I’m getting, I think that people are going to be a bit more vocal when they see people trashing these wildflower locations. And perhaps people will think twice before blithely trespassing.

    I probably have just 12 characters left before I completely fill your comment field, so I’m going to shut up now. But I just wanted to say that I am finding your conversation here interesting and enlightening. And that Ron, I will ALWAYS be on the lookout to make sure no one is stealing your photographs! — Carol Leigh

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    Mariah and Michael – I couldn’t agree more – it is many times more satisfying finding your own “places” then revisiting someone else’s.

    Steve, thanks for taking the time to comment, you make many good points – multiplying the need for driving is certainly a significant one.

    Carol. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and comments here, they are enlightening, and more importantly, thank you for all the time and effort you put into supplying current wildflower information to so many people over the years. I feel for you situation, but your motivation is pure and if you stay true to your heart I believe you will usually make the right decision. If you don’t continue the Hot-sheet I will miss it, but I will completely understand.

    Thanks again,

    Ron

  35. Wow, I’m offline (photographically) for a few days and quite a discussion has formed over Carol’s decision. I’m suddenly having flashbacks to my Honeymoon in Italy. Everywhere we looked we saw tourists carrying Rick Steve’s books visiting the “places the locals go” and turning them into the latest tourist spots (still wish I would have started photographing everyone I saw with a book…).

    I’m glad Carol shared her thoughts a bit more on her decision; and I understand how hard the decision was to make (I respect you taking a stand and follow your heart Carol!). Just like Rick’s books on Europe, sharing your knowledge is great when you consider how many eyes you have helped open on the beauty of the places you have seen. But it also works to change that same beauty. One axiom still holds true: Change is Constant. The rate of change is what keeps accelerating.

    We have seen the same impact 150+ years ago from travelers talking about the “wonderful land out west” that lead to more people “moving out west”. We only noticed the impact of that information sharing 50, 60, 70 years later. Today we can see the impact of that information sharing within a few years. This is just another example of how we have to think more broadly (and quickly) about the actions we take in today’s world of free flowing information. (Information does not equal knowledge…)

  36. I too am saddened by Carol’s decision to stop the Hotsheet, but completely understand her reasons for doing so. Something is good only so long as it promotes goodness, and when that ceases, it’s time for a change.

    The Hotsheet has been a great resource over the years, but in this information age of blogs and tweets I’m sure the passing of valueable information will simply fine another conduit. Above all, the source of our inspiration and livelihood must be preserved even if that means we just have to head out for the hills and see for ourselves.

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  38. Sad, sad, sad. I think you should keep specifiic locations to yourself unless they are already well known. Too bad people just can’t be trusted to respect nature. The National Forest Service protects a ruin near Sedona called Palatki, but has had to limit the amount of the large pictograph area people routinely visit because of vandalism — some of which has been done with docents present, believe it or not. (I suspect that the woman who damaged a specific spot that I am thinking about must be — quite literally — crazy.) Even the magnificent graph that served as a logo is no longer on routine visits and they seem to be phasing it out, I suspect because people ask where it is and may be offended when told they can’t see it.

    This discussion is especially timely because of an article in the current (April 2010) issue of Sedona Monthly, which has some unforgetable photographs of a place called the Wave. I had never heard of it before. It is somewhat similar to Antelope Canyon, but more open to the elements. Its exact location in the northern strip is kept secret until people succeed in getting a permit to travel there — very hard to obtain. Only 20 people are allowed in each day. Heaven knows what kind of demand this article will bring. I hope those who read your blog are trustworthy. In light of the above discussion I am somewhat reluctant to spread the word. Think I will email contact info to you.

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    Thanks for the comment Joni,

    Hearing about vandalism to pictographs really gets me worked up! To think they survived all these years just to be ruined by an idiot. So sad.

    I am familiar with the Wave, although I haven’t been there. At least they are limiting access to the area which should help to minimize the impact a bit. Thanks, Ron

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  42. This has been a very enlightening article. I am always very reluctant to tell specific locations even though I love to share anything and everything about my passion. Hoping I can stir up passion in someone else. Some people cannot be trusted and who knows what their true passion is. It may be wildlife, but for the reason of hunting not watching. I have worked at a newspaper for nine years and it is amazing when photographs come in of wildlife or scenery that the information of the location is written “Please keep confidential” at the top. I do not understand why people cannot repsect the importance of nature in our lives. Thanks again for the great article. I am not surprised that so many places maintain a strict policy on visitations.

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