Monthly Archives: November 2013

Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Depression

131130_DV_MesquiteDunes_Depresssion by Karl G. Graf.  Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 135mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 200

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.


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Happy Thanksgiving – A Walk Down a Golden Path

131128_Walk in the Forrest_Abstract by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MKIII with EOS 70-200mm 2.8L IS @ 200mm, f/8, 1/160 sec, ISO 1600

Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and many, many friends.  Today is a day to step back and reflect on all that we are thankful for.  Karen and I enjoyed our morning cup of coffee sitting in front of a fire as we reflected on many of the wonderful experiences that we have had together with each other, family and friends.  We look forward to many more in the future.

This abstract is a 9-image multiple exposure taken in a vertical pan down the trunk of tree.  It was taken during a walk down an autumn path with my good friend Stan.  It makes me think of, and be thankful for, the many beautiful places I have been.  I look forward to many more strolls down such golden paths with Karen, friends, or off on my own.


Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Ripples

131128_Mesquite Dunes - Ripples by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 280mm, f/11, 1/90 sec, ISO 200

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.

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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Waves

131127_Mesquite Dunes - Waves by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 98mm, f/22, 1/4 sec, ISO 200

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.

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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – First Light

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 280mm, f/22, 1/2 sec, ISO 200

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.

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light B&W by Karl G. Graf.

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Death Valley: Follow the Leader

131125_Mesquite Dunes by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 110mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 200

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.


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Death Valley: Sunrise ON Zabriskie Point

131124_Zabriskie Point by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS @ 125mm, f/16, 1/90 sec, ISO 400

Just a few moments after I took the image on my previous post the sun popped over the ridge and lit up Zabriskie Point.  The point seemed like it was on fire.  The subtle tonalities were severely washed out.  I had to add a lot of structure in NIK Viveza and tonal contrast in NIK ColorEfex Pro to bring out the contrasts.

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Death Valley: Sunrise at Zabriskie Point

131123_Zabriskie Point by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS @ 200mm, f/11, 1/20 sec, ISO 400

Sunrise had just broken on the mountains on the far side of Death Valley.  Zabriskie Point was still in the shadows, but there was enough light to bring out the tonal differences in the ridges and valleys leading down from the point.


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Death Valley: Racetrack

131122_DV_Racetrack by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF 24-70mm f2.8L @ 34mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO 400

Last weekend we visited family in Los Angeles.  We started talking about photographic adventures and Death Valley came up.  I thought I would go back through my images from earlier this year and post a few more from my trip to Death Valley with John Barclay and Chuck Kimmerle.

This image is from the “infamous” racetrack basin.  Nobody knows exactly how these rocks move across the basin.  Which direction did this 18-inch rock come from???

Anyway, it was an awe-inspiring site to visit and explore.  Staying with the Black and White theme of the workshop, I focused on the contrast between the elements within the frame.  I darkened the tracks slightly to help pop them out from the flats.


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