No these are not Chuck’s footprints! As I admire the grandeur around me, I try to remember to look up and down as well as side- and backwards. This time as I looked down, I was treated by a little critter’s path along the sand. Micro scenes like this abound everywhere just waiting for one to notice.
Back to Death Valley. Chuck Kimmerle commented on one of my past blogs regarding the traps of “Following the Leader”. He stressed the importance of creating one’s own image, not to follow some other expert. I fully agree with Chuck. I tend to get bored very quick when I line up my tripod with a group to capture that iconic image. It is nice to have a shot or two, but they end up as a reference … not one of my favorites. When I am with a group, I tend to wander very quickly away and get lost in my own explorations. This is where I find my most enjoyment.
For this image, I was following Chuck’s foot steps and saw that he had put down his tripod. I looked forward and to sides and saw some nice shapes of dunes, but nothing excited me. As I was about to trek on, I looked back and saw this interesting small depression between the dunes. I quickly walked back to get a perspective that I thought was interesting.
This was one of Chuck’s stops. He even put down his tripod to take an image. What caught my eye was the contrast between the smooth dune face and the ripples on the down hill side. I also liked the “scallops” on the dune’s edge.
This image was taken along the trail of Chuck Kimmerle’s footsteps. He did not stop here, so must have not thought it was interesting. The mini-scene reminded me of a set of waves rolling into shore. I worked the scene from multiple angles and came up with this as the view that most depicted waves. I actually was thinking B&W when I took this image. The shadows and early morning light provided the sharp contrast along the sand ripple edges.
First light across the dunes was a dramatic sight. The dune directly in front of me caught the brilliant first light of day, while the dune behind was still in shadow. This moment lasted only a few seconds. If you look hard at the background dune, you can see traces of sunlight on the tops of the ripples. A moment later everything was in bright sunlight. I was lucky to be set up and just waiting for the sun to break.
I experimented with this image to create a B&W version. I felt that the bright area was just too much in the B&W version. I like the warm tan sand contrasted against the grey background shadow in color version. Below is the B&W version. Choose for yourself.
On one of our workshop “sleep-in days”, a few of us went out to capture the early morning sunrise at Mesquite Dunes with Chuck Kimmerle. Chuck got us set up to catch the first light then took off on his own to explore. You can see Chuck in the upper left of this image.
When working with the “Pros”, I like to just watch and see what catches their eye as they explore an area. So I took this opportunity to follow Chuck’s foot steps across the sand and see where he stopped and milled around or set up his tripod. It was a good learning experience. At some of his stops, I saw nothing that caught my eye. At other stops, I looked around and saw a WOW image that I would have easily overlooked. Also, I stopped at many places where he did not stop to capture what I thought was a great image. It was a great learning exercise and a lot of fun too!
This is one of my few photos where I captured an overall image of the surrounding area. For most of my images, I tried to capture the details of the light and shadows as they passed over the dunes. To do this I added a 1.4X extender to my 70-200mm lens and used my Canon 7D cropped sensor camera. Because we were in a harsh environment in the sand, I did not dare change lenses. Next time I will make the hike with a normal lens to capture the overall beauty of the dunes against the purple mountains.
Just a few moments after I took the image in my previous blog, the sun broke above horizon creating a much greater contrast between the highlights and shadows. The softness of the foreground versus the interesting pattern of shadows and ridges on the mid-ground ripples caught my eye.
This was my second try in the Mesquite Dunes. A few of us got up early to catch the sunrise highlight the dunes while the others caught up on their sleep. As the sun broke the horizon it cast soft shadows and warm highlights. The contrast was very subtle. This morning was a learning experience for me. My objective was to see the contrasting shapes and lines, not necessarily capture that one great image. Chuck Kimmerle gave us a few very good starting point insights, then took off over the dunes. I followed his footsteps across the valleys and ridges, watching were he stopped shuffled around, put his tripod down (or not), then racing off to the next stop. At these stopping points, I took my time looking around trying to pick out something that peaked my interest. Sometimes an image appeared, sometimes it didn’t. It was a great morning just to be out and enjoy a wonderful landscape.
Where to start … the grand vista?, shapes?, colors?, details?, shadows? … too many choices!!! As soon as I walked into Mesquite Dunes, my eyes and mind shot around in every direction. There were just too many opportunities and a very narrow window to capture the light of the setting sun. I quickly dropped behind our workshop group as I saw one thing after another. I went after it all! When I reviewed my images, I was pretty disappointed. I ended up with a lot of “snapshots”. Lesson learned here … don’t be greedy, let the image come to me. Be patient, let my eyes and mind wander … the image will come.
This was one of the few images that did “call out” I saw it in the distance and walked around several minutes before I found a perspective that “clicked” for me. The curve shadow and bright highlights on the ridge separated the dune from the distant mountains.