While walking back to the car after a long and productive day, I glanced up and saw the silhouette of multiple mountain ridges. A great way to end a great day.
As March is ending, this will be my last post on Death Valley … at least for a little while. The workshop gave me a much better understanding on what it takes to “see in Black and White”. John Barclay and Dan Sniffen put together a great workshop. Chuck Kimmerle provided a view into B&W photography that can’t be duplicated. The workshop participants included many great photographers on their own merits. My car pool mates, Arthur Ransome and Chuck Robinson are especially talented. I learned much from them as well. Thanks to all, leaders and participants, for making this a great workshop and experience!
I was looking for lines and shapes at Zabriskie Point. In the opposite direction of the point and in the shadows, I saw these repetitive V’s created by multiple ridges coming together. The sun had just started to hit the top of the ridge line on the right side of the image. The balance of the ridges were in a shadow from another ridge in the background. The overall image was very flat. Using processing techniques taught by Chuck Kimmerle in our workshop, I was able to pull out the shadows within the overall shadow. Thanks Chuck!
I had just finished shooting a wide panorama of a range of interesting rock outcroppings. It was a “ho-hum” image of what was going through my mind. Right before I left, I looked down at my feet and saw this interesting remains of a struggling sagebrush. It reminds me of a continuous theme that I need to embed in my approach: Look around and let the images come to me.
This was my original vision of Death Valley, pretty desolate. Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below Sea Level, it is pretty bleak. This image was taken about a mile in from the road. The salt/sand crust was pretty well broken up. The miles of salt flats gave me a very chilling feeling (even though it was over 80 degrees). Can you imagine what the first explorers thought when they came across this bleak landscape.
I have been following Chuck Kimmerle’s work for several years after I saw it in LensWork Magazine. Chuck joined John Barclay and Dan Sniffen as a guest instructor for the Death Valley workshop that I have currently been posting. He discussed his thoughts and feelings on Black and White photography, He emphasized creativity and how it reflects on evoking feelings and emotions. Below is Chuck’s Guest Post on John Barclay’s Blog. (Click on the Link)
I saw this image of Titus Canyon in two different ways. Our workshop group was photographing details on the canyon granite walls. I turned back around and saw the sun highlighting the colors on the mountain face above. Cool shadows in the canyon provided a sharp contrast. The color highlights are what caught my eye. But this was a black and white photography workshop. Throughout the workshop, Chuck Kimmerle had been emphasizing seeing and thinking in black and white as we take our shots. I tried to put on a “B&W filter” over my eyes. I started to see greater contrast between the sky, the highlighted mountain face, and two levels of shadow contrast along the canyon walls. Exploring further, I began to see the subtle (and not so subtle) tonal contrasts in the canyon walls as well as the mountain face. I locked the scene in my mind.
Reviewing my images back at home, I picked this image as one of my favorites. I processed it in B&W and was able to capture the B&W image that I had previously set in my mind. The following is the B&W version.
These images are not creative. However, for me they represent a step in the learning process of seeing and thinking in B&W.
The color in this section of mountains truly looks like an “artist’s pallet”. The different mineral colors exposed by geological upheavals and erosion made this scene look so out of place against the soft browns of the surrounding hills. Patches of color were everywhere. Some images are just not to be made into black and white.
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.
No Death Valley photos today. We were planning on working in the garden this weekend. It wasn’t meant to be. A late winter snow kept us inside working on other projects. I did have a few moments to sneak out and capture a couple of shots around the garden.