Look Beyond What You Expect To See!

Salt Polygons, Storm Clouds & Magic Light

With my time being valuable, and with experience on my side, many of my strongest landscape images are born of research, planning and multiple visits to a single location. That said, there are quite a few gems that have come from being open to whatever Mother Nature offers up. The image above is a great example of this scenario. I had waited for days while Mother Nature handed up flat grey sunrises and sunsets. On this particular morning, I was rewarded with exactly what I had hoped for. Just 20 minutes before this image was taken, I was treated to the pastel pink and orange sky I had hoped for, adding the perfect backdrop to my strong salt polygon foreground. It was quite tempting, after achieving the “goal image”, to pack up and head back to camp to rest. However, I was willing to receive multiple gifts, if Mother Nature wanted to be generous.
I was intrigued by the warm morning light on the salt polygons and the distant mountain line, contrasted against the dark clouds of the approaching storm. I put my 8×10 away, and set up my 5×7 field camera with a 6×17 cm panoramic film back. The panoramic format accentuated the long lines of the mountain range, dark sky, sandy brown salt and white salt in the foreground. I also feel that the panoramic format accentuates the feeling of vastness I was struck by, while eliminating too much empty sky or overdone foreground. The drama and mood of this image conveys the desolate beauty I experienced in this unique location. If I had closed my mind to anything other than the image I had pre-visualized, I would have missed an amazing opportunity. Remember, it is nice to compose an image we have created in our minds eye, but we don’t want to miss that hidden gem (or the experience that comes along with discovering it!).
Photo Tip:
This one is basic, but shouldn’t be overlooked. Always stay open and receptive to whatever Mother Nature may offer you. I actually find that this is often an issue for more experienced photographers. As we gain experience, we often become set in our ways, focused on “the job” of creating a perfect image, or just plain lazy. I have seen people discover magic light, learn how to plan around it, become adept at planning the ideal shot (all good things), and then forget about the experience of being in nature. Light changes, occurs in different ways and transforms a landscape. While the perfectly planned shot is great to achieve, we should stay open to something different (and perhaps better) that shows itself to us. If we go beyond what we expect, and tap into the emotion and intuition that made us want to preserve these natural moments through photography, we can maintain our love for the natural experience and create images that are truly moving.
Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera, Canham 6×17 cm panoramic film back, Caltar (Rodenstock) 210mm lens, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Fuji Provia RDPIII 100 Transparency Film.
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This entry was posted in 617cm film, 8x10 film, California, death valley, desert photography, digital photography, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Salt Flat, Sunrise, Uncategorized, western and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. DUSARIEZ May 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Nice work, I like it !
    Michel DUSARIEZ Brussels, Belgium