Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Sudden Stop

One more image that fits into the category of the previous post. Compositionally I found the juxtaposition interesting. A little campy perhaps but still worth a sheet of film. I still felt torn cause the rock in the foreground was almost certainly moved to that spot by someone. (not me) If on the slight chance people see this image and like it, would they be more inclined to move other rocks just for the sake of creating a composition to photograph? It would be the death of this place. It resonates with the curse of conservational minded landscape photographers. You take a beautiful photograph of a place to promote the need of protecting it. People see the photograph and then swarm the location and destroy in essence what made the place worth protecting in the first place. Dilemma indeed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The One Less Traveled By

I've still got a few more images from the Race Track that I still enjoy and will be sharing. I mentioned before how it annoys me how people go out of their way to an amazing place and then destroy the very thing that brought them there in the first place by moving rocks around for whatever reasons they may have. With that in mind, I would like to emphasize that I did not touch, move, manipulate, intimidate or use any form of telekinesis to make any of my images. How the rock got here without leaving tracks I have no idea. This one was close enough to the mountain that it might actually be new rock fall that will hopefully start to leave tracks soon. Aside from personal misgivings relative to the provenance of this composition, I did enjoy the obvious disconnect of the very object and trace evidence that makes the place sought after and loved..

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Tale of Two Dogs

The eternal editing conundrum. When faced with two options that you consider to be good options and you really shouldn't keep both...what do you do? I like the form of the dog better in the first one but the reflection in the second one. I also like the snow covered peaks and the sky of the first one is very similar to another photo that I recently posted and also really liked. Maybe so similar that I can't use both. (reference here) Though the sky and the sun in the first balance very nicely with the dog. Either way, this dog was insane. This is ice and snow melt off and he kept jumping in over and over and over again. It was quite entertaining.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Geology in Abstract

My previous visit to Death Valley occurred over Presidents Day weekend. Since the sun went down long before we were tired we decided to go and listen to the Rangers Talks at the visitors center. I had never done that before and never really had interest but I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite by far was a discussion about the geology of the park and the forces in nature that helped form it. My eyes were opened and I was given new eyes to see. I wanted to know the story behind everything I saw. For one of our day trips we decided to drive Titus Canyon. There was one spot in particular that I found particularly fascinating. Sadly I did not pull out the camera. This time we made the trip through Titus again and this time I decided to study it more photographically. I am undecided on the results but I thought I would share anyways. On first glance you may see nothing but an abstract interplay of black and what values but imagine all the stories that could be told if you really listened to this wall talk.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

In the Shadow

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park is one of those Mecca type places for landscape photographers. For me thats a problem. You show up with a camera at sunrise and it feels like you should grab a number and step into a queue. Nothing worse to me than a whole crowd sitting there taking the same picture. I still like going there don't get me wrong. It really is remarkably beautiful. What I usually end up doing though is looking everywhere but where everyone else is pointing their cameras. I find this to be a good exercise anyways. I don't like the superficial landscape photo. I call them trophy shots. They say as little to me as cliché pictures of barns and kittens. I like to explore and spend time to find out what else makes a place wonderful, interesting, exotic, mysterious, etc. besides just the surface appearance. I love the texture and forms that can be found at Zabriskie. That is what I find beautiful there. So in case you are wondering this picture was taken at Zabriskie point, not of Zabriskie point. My camera is pointed about 180 degrees away from most of the other cameras and down as well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ludicrous Speed

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Remains

One thought that struck me while at the Race Track was that the primary element that made this place unique was the tracks, rather than the rocks themselves. You don't have to look very hard to find rocks sitting on dry ground. This evidence left over to demonstrate that the rocks do in fact move by themselves...or by aliens, pick your very magical. That led me to explore the area in a different way. One of my first inspirations in photography was Brett Weston who took his fathers obsession with form and pushed it more to the abstract. I have always found myself looking for interesting patterns within objects themselves. This plays off of the same concept I mentioned in my photographs in sand dunes. I love the creative exercise and challenge of organizing shapes in the chaos of nature. Here are some samples of what I found.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cliché Dunes #2

"Every photographer is concerned with order, but the landscape photographer’s essential preoccupation must be with form, organization and the idea of bringing order out of chaos." - George Tice

This quote resonates with the specific area that I find purely enjoyable about photographing in sand dunes regardless of how often they have been photographed before. It is a fun and challenging physical and creative exercise to find order in chaos while chasing an ever changing and fleeting light. Photography will ever be an exercise in learning to see more. To see more requires seeking for not only what a subject is but also for what else it represents and evokes. Form and the pursuit thereof is something that I believe needs to be conducted n harmony with idea not an either/or scenario. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cliché Dunes #1

"Cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel."

As soon as Edward Weston first photographed the Oceano Dunes the inevitable journey towards the labeling of any black and white photographs of sand dunes cliché began. I am guilty and I am aware of that. Being born after someone that did something very well that I happen to enjoy has always been a pet peeve of mine. I hate showing up to the party late. Oh well, I guess his son Brett would have had a more difficult time seeing as he had to grow up as a photographer in the shadow of that legendary father. I figure that as long as you continue to ask questions about why you are drawn to certain subjects and why you are photographing them the way that you are (even if comparisons can be made to legends) then that is the only way that you will be able to get to a point where you can stand on your own or even better, on the shoulders of giants. You can't run away from photographing what you are instinctively drawn towards without suffering from an identity crisis. In the words of Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss." If the path to your vision has to borrow steps from those that have come before then so be it. You could be in worse company. Just don't stop in those footsteps and forget to finish your journey.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Idiot Tracks

Here are the first of my non-traditional postmodern photographs taken from the Race Track. I admit to being a little disappointed when I arrived for this particular visit. Something did not vibe with my memory of the place from the first visit I had made. At first I ignored it but later I brought up my discontent with Brandon Allen, who was on his 3rd visit, and he agreed. It seemed as if something was missing. As if there had been no...whatever the phenomenon is that enables the rocks to move. Perhaps the magic of the place had died and had been replaced by morons.

Let me explain, to get to the Race Track you must take a long drive into the middle of nowhere on a road that is notorious for shredding tires. (I kid not. My first visit resulted in a tire that looked like it got sent through a powerful paper shredder a couple of times.) It is an unique area known for the natural yet mysterious movement of rocks and the tracks they leave. Yet everywhere I looked there were things that destroyed this mystique. There were signs of footprints left by people walking on the playa while it was wet, rocks were separated from their tracks and moved to other spots (I assume for someones picture), then the worst of all was the tracks left by someone who went for a drive on the playa.

Why make the pilgrimage to a place of wonder only to kill the very thing that gave the location life and magic in the first place? Is it that the ego of man is that fragile or are we just that nearsighted and inconsiderate? I worry what will be left if people continue to make locations like this their playground. Thats enough, rant over.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sobriety Test

After posting about my obsession to go photograph the moving rocks at the Race Track in Death Valley National Park I figured it only wise to post an image of one of the aforementioned moving rocks so that people will know what I was referring to. In fact, I will probably post a number of pictures from the Race Track. It is really a wonderful place to photograph. I am often faced with the question of what am I going to do different than what has already been done by so many others. When I faced that question here, all I could think was...who cares? Sometimes it is very refreshing to get the academics out of your head and just have some fun. I really enjoyed the creative exercise of walking and looking and composing. I liked looking for how the light played off of the polished playa. I liked the challenge of where my mind could go when I sat and pondered something as bizarre as this rock that looks like it really needed the services of a designated driver. I have plenty of images that I challenged myself to not settle for the predictable image but I still am quite happy with this result and the experiences that accompanied it as well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seeing the Forest even Without Trees

For Spring Break, I went to Death Valley National Park with John Telford and Brandon Allen. One of the priorities of the trip was to go out and photograph in an area known as the Race Track. It is a unique place where rocks seem to move of their own fruition and leave tracks in the playa as evidence. I found myself experiencing tunnel vision while there. I came to the Race Track so dogone it, I was going to photograph those rocks. After the sun set, I realized that I frequently looked up and was amazed at how beautiful the sky was. Yet, I wasn't here to photograph the sky. I was here to photograph those rocks so I didn't make any photographs that incorporated the sky. It is a sad realization for a landscape photographer to realize that one fell into the trap of not seeing what opportunities God gave on a particular day. I was focused on finding a specific kind of picture and dismissed anything that didn't fit that model. I went to bed a little annoyed at myself and my perceived failure. Luckily we had decided to spend the night and photograph in the morning as well. The sky was not as amazing but I was not going to complain or neglect an opportunity again. I realized that I was blessed with a little chance at redemption and a valuable photograph is to see. I must not forget to allow the world to reveal its wonders and not force its hand.

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