It was pitch black when we arrived. Not a single star was visible in the heavens. It was overcast and the prospects of a spectacular sunset or even a good one were not very high. It all depended on whether the clouds extended beyond the horizon, all the way to the Colorado River, 110 miles to the east. One can always hope. Dawn photographers are always filled with hope.
Then there was a gentle tap on my cheek. I must be imagining things. And then a phantom spot materialized on my glasses. “Hey guys, it’s starting to rain. Cover up your gear,” I called. But there was no way a little rain was going to deter us. So we started wandering around in the gathering light, looking for compositions still keeping a watchful eye on the eastern horizon.
Soon it was clear that the sun was about to peep over the distant mountains and there was a thin strip of open sky that would make the sun visible for a brief minute or two. “Get ready; here it comes!” And come it did! A gossamer veil of gold filled the stormy sky, exceeding our wildest expectations. What a thrill it was to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
Tags: dawn, Joshua Tree, National Park, Rain, sunrise
Posted in Journal | Comments (0)
We are choosing the best Ralph Nordstrom Photography photograph of 2012, or, more precisely, you are. We’re running a series of surveys, selecting the best photograph from each of five areas where we did workshops – Death Valley and Joshua Tree (collectively the California Deserts), Eastern Sierra, Big Sur, Zion and Bryce Canyon.
The first survey covered the California Deserts. And the results are in. But before presenting them I’d like to give you an opportunity to weigh in on the second survey – the incomparable Eastern Sierra. We were there in early June which is summer in the Owens Valley but still spring up in the mountains. There are six photographs to choose from and the survey will only take a couple of minutes. So click the link below and share your opinion.
Select the Best Eastern Sierra Photograph of 2012
OK, now let’s turn to the results of the California Deserts survey. There were four photographs, two from Death Valley and two from Joshua Tree.
Continue reading “Best Photograph of 2012 – California Desert” »
Tags: 2012, abstract, badwater, Big Sur, Bryce, campground, Canyon, clouds, cockscomb mountains, cottonwood, dawn, Death Valley, depth, Eastern, haze, interpretation, Joshua Tree, layers, Mirror, National Park, Owens Valley, pan, pattern, photograph, Pinto Basin, playa, quartz, Rain, salt, Sierra, Sierra Nevada, storm, sunrise, sunset, survey, twilight, Zabriskie Point, Zion
Posted in Journal | Comments (1)
As I continue reading Ansel Adam’s fascinating book, ”Examples The Making of 40 Photographs” I continue to come across insights that I wish to share with you.
“Tenaya Creek Dogwood Rain” was taken one overcast spring day in 1948 as Adams was out looking for dogwoods to photograph. He notice something along Tenaya Creek up by Mirror Lake and went exploring. It was starting to rain and he almost returned to his car and the warmth of his accommodation when this scene caught his eye. He went back to his car to retrieve his photographic gear including his 8X10 view camera.
I’m really taken by this photograph. The light is perfect. The white dogwood bracts glow against the green foliage. It has a feeling of both intimacy and grandeur. I would love to have a print. It would be so easy to get lost in it.
The comments that Adams made that caught my attention (besides this beautiful photograph) deal with the inspiration the artist feels when interacting with a subject. They are perfect and I must share them with you.
“The photographer learns to seek the essential qualities of his environment, no matter where he may be. By this I mean he should be tuned to respond to every situation. It is not enough to like or dislike; he must make an effort to understand what he is experiencing…. My life is full of memories of experiences that are of greater importance than recollections of mere things that have happened. Unless I had reacted to the mood of this place with some intensity of feeling, I would have found it a difficult and shallow undertaking to attempt a photograph.”
In my own experience “intensity of feeling” comes with practice, experience, patience, slowing down, quieting the brain, opening up, understanding, respect, harmony, and reverence. There is a very technical, analytical side to photography that can easily drown out the creative, inspirational side. It is necessary to balance the two to create successful images. Technical excellence without soul is sterile and empty. Great photographs begin with inspiration, awe and wonder which is then captured and communicated through an abundance of technical skill. We don’t find inspiration every time we go out but as our eye becomes more and more aware we find inspiration in more and more places.
We invite you to join the conversation. Where do you find inspiration? How has that changed over time? We’d be interested in hearing your experiences.
Do you know someone who might also enjoy this article? Please feel free to share it on Facebook, Twitter or other social network sites.
Join me on an upcoming workshop. Click here for more details.
To see more of my photographs click here.
Oh, by the way, I couldn’t resist. I purchased the photograph from the Ansel Adams Gallery. It will arrive in a few days. I’m so excited.
Tags: Adams, Ansel, artist, Creek, Dogwood, effort, environment, foliage, grandeur, importance, inspiration, intimacy, lake, life, memories, Mirror, mood, qualities, Rain, recollections, situation, subject, Tenaya
Posted in Journal, Making a Photograph | Comments (0)