When you get up early and leave at 4:30 in the morning for a sunrise shoot there are no guarantees. You pick a location that has potential and, by getting out so early, you up the potential for great light. It might, and then it might not happen. But you’re out there anyway.
When you arrive, the desert is still dark. You stand by your car, talking quietly with friends, sipping hot coffee and watching the emerging light on the eastern horizon. There is a sense of eagerness balanced with patience. Often, however, just being there is its own reward and coming home with a keeper is icing on the cake.
The earth brightens quickly this time of day and soon you grab your gear and head out into the desert. For me, just wandering and not looking for anything in particular is the best approach.
I prefer to let images come to me rather than hunting them down. When something I see stops me in my tracks, these turn out to be the best photographs. It’s not because I’m searching for leading lines or applying the rule of thirds or any other of the many ‘rules’ of composition. I don’t like to think when I’m photographing; I prefer to become quiet and simply experience. And when I’m in that state of mind I stop in my tracks because it just feels right. And the stop is usually followed closely by an utterance of surprise and joy – “Oh Wow!”.
Such was the case with “Sheep Pass Morning.” The morning shoot was winding down, meaning the sunrise had come and gone and the wonderful golden hour light was quickly fading. I wandered aimlessly and “Boom,” there it was. I was excited. This just felt right. And yes, I did say, “Oh wow!”
I set up my camera and composed the shot. I was conscious of the cluster of rocks in the lower right corner and their relationship with the Joshua trees on the right edge. I was conscious of outcrop of rocks on the left, the mountain range in the background (Queen Mountain) and the clouds. All these elements were in my mind but mostly I was seeking balance and harmony. During that time, distant Queen mountain into shadow so I waited for the light to came back, cheering it along. Then the moment came and I tripped the shutter.
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – Sheep Pass Morning (2016)” »
Tags: balance, golden hour, harmony, Joshua Tree National Park, Lightroom, Nik, PhotoShop, Queen Valley, sheep pass, Silver Efex Pro, sunrise
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As I drive across the Mojave Desert late one Thursday night not long ago, heading north on I-15, I have a sense of harmony, of unity with the night, the highway, my car. The pavement ahead eases into the beam of my headlights, grows brighter as it draws closer and then slips back into darkness as it slides underneath. Nights like this are a joy. I’m in a groove, a state of calm serenity and anticipation. Tomorrow I’ll be returning to Zion National Park, something I always look forward to. I didn’t notice the faint flashes of light.
Powerful thunderstorms were roiling over eastern California and southern Nevada that night, The dark clouds glowed with flickers of light and precious water dropped on the parched desert. it was a huge storm and I was chasing it. Approaching the state line the casino lights of Prim were reflected, bright and shimmering, on what is normally a dry lake bed. A half hour later as Las Vegas finally came into view, the glitz and glamor of the gaudy hotels was dwarfed by the grandeur of bolts of lightning streaking for miles across the turbulent sky.
The following morning workers were cleaning up after the storm but it hadn’t fully passed. Storm clouds still blanketed the sky for the remainder of the journey to Zion. A detour to Kolob Terrace to check the aspens was, I suppose, inevitable. The falling snow up in the high country was a surprise. And a delight. Sunrise the next morning was looking promising.
The best location in Zion that gets the full sunrise treatment is West Temple. I’ve photographed it many times but never got anything that I was excited about. The most popular location to shoot from is the ‘patio’ behind the museum but on this morning I chose a less visited one – the 2nd switchback on Tunnel Road. The expectation of clearing storm clouds, the choice of shooting locations – everything worked out just right.
Continue reading “The Making of a Photograph – Clearing Storm, West Temple 2012” »
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