Dynamic Juxtaposition

Much of my photography is about juxtaposition of elements with the landscape. Sometimes that’s simply combining static terrestrial features, but when possible I try to add something more dynamic, such as meteorological subjects like lightning or a rainbow, or celestial objects like the Milky Way or the Moon. The challenge with dynamic juxtapositions is timing—while the meteorological juxtapositions are usually a matter of playing…

Watch your back

Every once in a while we find ourselves at just the right place when Mother Nature delivers something special. When that happens, the best thing to do is stay calm and keep your head on a swivel. In January my Death Valley workshop group had one of those moments. We’d walked almost smile to get out to dunes that hadn’t been trampled, then waited while a…

Tips to improve your full moon photography

Have you ever seen a glowing full moon suspended above a beautiful landscape and been moved enough to grab your camera? And how many times have those pictures actually matched your memory of the moment? Not too many, I’d guess. Either your landscape was completely black, or (more likely) the moon was an ugly white blob. You’ve just experienced an example of the human eye’s vastly superior dynamic range—while…

Improve your relationships

Following a nice sunrise on the dunes, my workshop group had started the undulating trek back to the cars. While we hadn’t gotten a lot of color that morning, we’d been blessed with virgin sand beneath a translucent layer of clouds. Quite content with the soft, low contrast light for most of the morning, right toward the end the sun snuck through to deliver high contrast, light-skimming drama that provided about five minutes of…

Sandstorm

*    *    *    * Read my February 9 blog for more about this amazing evening on the dunes. ____________________ For nearly an hour my workshop group played in relative peace on the dunes, but about fifteen minutes before sunset the clouds dropped and our window of calm slammed shut. Just like that sand was everywhere, invading every camera, clothing, and exposed body…

Pure as the driven sand

February 2013 Sand dunes’ graceful curves and intricate textures move and intrigue the eye, and few things better convey nature’s purity than a windswept dune. Ironically, it’s the dunes’ aesthetic magnetism that hastens their demise as photographic subjects—their fragile sand, so easily sculpted by Mother Nature’s fickle winds, is hopelessly marred by any contact with the humans drawn by their beauty. While Death Valley…

The Road to the Racetrack, Part Deux

*    *    *    * Previously on “The Road to the Racetrack” Racetrack Road approaches from the north and skirts the west side of Racetrack Playa in the shadow of Ubehebe (yuba-he’-be) Peak. We crested the saddle above the playa’s north perimeter and dropped out of the gray soup that had confined our world for about two hours. Before us spread the…

The Road to the Racetrack

*    *    *    * A couple of weeks ago I got the bright idea to spend the twenty-four hours separating my two Death Valley workshops with a trip out to the Racetrack. While it seemed like such a good idea at the time, as my first workshop drew to a close I started longing for a bit of recharge time before…

Color, color everywhere

*   *   *   * After three days of solid blue skies (Zzzzzzzzzzzz), yesterday morning my Death Valley workshop group was rewarded with a sunrise for the record books. I’ve seen color like this in Yosemite, Hawaii, and the Grand Canyon to name a few, but never at Death Valley. As the group gathered at the hotel about an hour before sunrise,…

A tale of two moons

*    *    *    * Going through images from earlier this year, I was struck by the difference the rendering of the moon makes in the overall effect of two images taken from different locations in Death Valley, a couple of days apart. In one, the moon is merely a garnish for a scene that’s all about the repeating patterns and harsh desolation of…