Thursday, December 31, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Here is one more interesting formation from Death Valley, showing in more detail the incredible work done by the power of erosion in creating these badlands landscapes. Shot also from Zabriski Point (same as previous post), a couple of minutes after sunrise, which you can probably tell by the light just kissing the tops of the hills. I think this formation has a name, but I don't know what it is:).. will have to research it sometime. If anyone knows, feel free to set me straight!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Finally working up some presentable frames from Death Valley a few weeks ago...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Went walking on our favorite stretch of local beach the other evening, armed with nothing but my trusty iPhone. No zoom, no shutter or aperture controls, barely anything like a lens... People often stop by to examine my prints and ask (especially guys) what kind of gear I use; I think I'll freak 'em out from now on and say; "Just my cell phone.":)
I feel a quick series coming on... I could put the results of my experiment all in one post, but I might have a few interesting points to make about each one, so I'll do one per day. First up, a little "seashore triptych"; three still life shots that are similar and complementary. Click for a larger view on this one. Experienced eyes might notice that the resolution was of course limited; I couldn't frame and hang these in any gallery, but in this environment, if I didn't tell you beforehand, would you notice?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Or in this case, inside the gold mining ghost town, to be exact. (Some of you from the same generation as me will recall that snippet of lyrics from the Doors "The End", which I am listening to right now because it sets the mood perfectly.)
Monday, September 7, 2009
On my first stop here a year before, the wind was blowing so hard that I couldn't even get out of the car because of the sheer force and the blowing blasts of sand that would have ruined my camera if I had decided to try. Those same winds turned out to be the ones that nearly caused all of San Diego to go up in flames, as we discovered while driving home a few days later. So, last year while foliage hunting, I was determined to get back to this spot even though this time rain was the problem, but the weather broke overnight and I was able to catch some soft post-dawn light filtered by the remaining storm clouds. On the drive out here before dawn, I experienced the awesome sight of leftover clouds from the storm literally pouring out of the vermillion cliffs to the north, along the ground and across the road, backlit by the rising sun. Something I was unable to stop and capture photographically then or to describe adequately in words now, but believe me a sight to see, so this will have to do for today.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
On a side note, I know my posts and visits have been few and far between recently... I have been involved in relocating my entire office/studio, which as you might guess is a lot of work, but at last we're pretty much resettled and I hopefully won't have to devote quite so much of my time to that process anymore, allowing me to get back to some fun stuff.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Known as Spider Rock in Navajo lore, this 800 ft. tall formation is believed to be the home of Spider Woman, one of the most important figures in their mythology; a main character in the creation of the world and the one who taught them their most revered craft of weaving, which they still practice with great artistry today.
Would I make the same effort to be here if I wasn't so determined to capture the scene... and would I have learned about the Navajo traditions surrounding it?.. probably not. That kind of unexpected benefit is what makes this work rewarding on so many different levels. Producing a successful photograph is really just icing on the cake.
A short but interesting history of Navajo weaving can be found here, with some good links that go deeper into the old tales and history should anyone be interested.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Every time I wanted to set up at an interesting spot, I had to deal not only with the 105° temperature, but the dust clouds kicked up by passing cars and all the jokers jumping out to strike silly poses against the landscape as their friends or family took snaps. Everyone has the right to enjoy as they see fit, but it just kills the aura of the location if you know what I mean. Maybe I'm spoiled or a bit selfish, but I often manage to find myself alone and at peace with the environment in places like this, and I definitely picked the wrong season this time. I thought I was totally wasting my time, but as is often the case, surprising things happen if you just stick it out to the end.
I often say that I like photographs that resemble a painting.. I think this one qualifies. As the sun gets low, the rich colors of the red earth come to life in a way that you just will never experience at mid-day here in the desert. The crowds thin out, heading off for drinks and dinner, the temperature cools a bit and maybe even the sky which was mostly clear blue for much of the day starts to cooperate.
Check out the SkyWatch homepage for more great sky oriented scenery from all over the world.
You could not guess in what a fantastic place I am. I sit in the shade of an ancient, dying juniper tree, cushioned on my Navajo saddle blankets. On all sides, the burning sun beats down on silent, empty desert. To right and left, long walls of sandstone mesas reach away into the distance, the shadows in their fluted clefts the color of claret. Before me, the desert drops sheer away into a vast valley, in which strangely eroded buttes of all delicate shadings of vermilion, orange and purple, tower into a cloudless turquoise sky.
-Everett Ruess, June, 1934 (age 20) writing from Monument Valley.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Although administered by the National Park Service, mainly to preserve what is left of these valuable sites, the canyon and surrounding area are completely owned by the Navajo people, many of whom still reside here in the canyon during the summers, running small farms and living in traditional Hogans (round, low profile log cabin-like structures.) Closed to outsiders unless accompanied by a Navajo Guide, horses and cattle wander around freely among orchards and small fields, making it seem a pastoral and peaceful place now, but there is a long and complex history of struggle and violence in the whole of the southwest.. some of the most important of it happened right here. I'll get into a bit of that in another post.
This particular ruin is the only site down inside the canyon that you can visit on your own, by hiking down from the rim. The accompanying photo looking out over one section of the canyon, which you can click for a detailed view, was taken at dawn from the spot on the rim where the trail begins. I'm including it here as a good scene to put the place in some kind of context.. I took it while waiting for the sun to come up enough to start down the trail; my theory was to get down and back before it got too hot since there is no shade and the days were running in the 100° range, but I ended up having to endure it anyway because I spent so much time at the bottom shooting the ruins. The trail is about 1.5 miles and 500 ft. elevation gain which is not too bad, but with the heat and having to carry my photo gear, I was complaining to myself at the start back up when I met an old Navajo lady, at least in her late 70's and probably older, dressed in a colorful full length skirt and wearing a jacket even in such heat, hiking down all by herself. She seemed to be fine and happy, so I had to tell myself that if she can do it at her age, I should be able to make it up without complaining.
I decided on a black and white treatment for this image due to the way it highlights the textures of the rock and especially the dark streaks of desert varnish trailing down the sheer rock face from high above.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
In addition to mentioning as I go along here some of the classic photographers or artists that have influenced and inspired me, I want to occasionally point out a site that is especially interesting or informative. Therefore, for my "tip of the day", I give a big thumbs up to Georgia-based photographer Craig Tanner's video series "The Daily Critique". You can view it directly on the website where he is the principal contributor: The Mindful Eye (after a free sign-up), or find the entire archive easily here on YouTube. Each day, he takes a viewer-submitted image and analyzes it in a very informative and positive way, discussing composition, color theory, processing techniques and the general thought process behind art and photography. I'm pretty sure that no matter what your skill level, you will find it quite fun to watch. He has a very pleasant manner and more importantly, is excellent at articulating the concepts of visual language. A nice byproduct (to me at least) is that at the end of each segment, you will have spent 6-8 minutes really studying an image and getting a feel for what the photographer was thinking and trying to accomplish, as opposed to the quick few seconds glance we typically allow when cruising blogs and websites. His essay, "The Myth of Talent" is quite inspiring, also. Please check out a video or two and let me know what you think.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
I'll mention others as they come to mind, or seem to tie in with my own examples; probably mostly photographers, but some other types of artists too... as well as some fellow bloggers that I have found since I started doing this blog. I know that with photography in particular, lots of people have been taken up in a sudden fascination on the subject and haven't necessarily looked into the history of what got us here, so I hope I can turn a few of you on to some great work that might inspire you even further. And I would certainly love to hear back from anyone who has their own favorite masters or contemporaries that they would like to share.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Secondly, I wanted to throw a change up in here just for fun. I know I have at least a few regular visitors from the U.K., and thinking about that inspired me to dig up something a little different for this post...so, a bit of personal history:
My mother's family emigrated from England to the Boston, Mass. area early last century and I kind of promised myself that if I was ever "in the neighborhood", I would try to find the small town of Ilfracombe, in southwest England, that they had left behind. My wife and I were staying near Bath a few years ago, having taken the train from London, and had already decided to rent a car and drive down to Devon and stay in the town for a few days, since we wanted to see that area anyway. I already knew, from an old (circa 1930) tourism catalog that somehow got left over from my grandparent's possessions and found it's way to me, that Ilfracombe is a resort area, but we were pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful little place it is, sitting right on the north coast surrounded by rolling green hills and rocky cliffs. Hiking on the cliff tops and looking out over the ocean, it felt remarkably like some of the coastal areas I now enjoy in California, so maybe it was in my blood that I would end up here on the west coast, close to the pacific and it's many rocky cliffs. It was surely kind of odd, walking around this little village, halfway around the world from where I live now, realizing that my grandfather and his family had lived a good portion of their lives among these same streets and houses... and that they probably didn't look very much different then than they do today. After returning home, I contacted a nice lady from the Ilfracombe town museum and she helped me trace this branch of my family back several generations, so I definitely have long history here, but I got to the point where it was going to take some serious investigation to go back any further. Hopefully, I will return some day and be better prepared to do some efficient research, since they have many years of historical records at the museum.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
There are several large areas of dunes in California; the best known are in Death Valley and here, in the extreme southwest corner of the state right next to Arizona, are the Algodones Dunes. More commonly known as the Imperial Dunes, because that is the name of the recreational area set aside for all the dune buggies, ATVs and dirt bikes that buzz around burning gas literally by the tens of thousands on any given weekend. Especially in the winter when it's cool, there is basically a temporary city of campers and motor homes each weekend as thousands migrate here to play in the sand. Fortunately, the much larger part of the area is set aside as a pure wilderness... no vehicles or other man made activity is allowed except for hiking and nature watching. So, as peaceful and desolate as this image may look, a mile or so behind from where I took this is all the motorized craziness. Wandering out in this direction, you can barely find another human footprint, but if you look closely in the foreground you can see part of a few prints that look like a coyote had walked by, and we found numerous beetle and bug tracks in the undisturbed sand also. There are no trails, obviously... you can just wander around up and down the dunes wherever you want until you get tired, which doesn't take that long walking in the loose sand. Dangerously hot here in the summer, but winter is very comfortable.
I mentioned this area briefly in a previous post, and have been struggling a bit since then with how to present these; going back and forth between B&W vs. color so many times that I'm not sure which I prefer... depends on what particular day I happen to look at them I guess. For today, I'll show a color image and then maybe a B&W one later... I'm always curious about what people prefer. Since it was winter and the days were short, we stuck around until late in the day to capture the low golden light and deep shadows just before sunset.
You can get a sense of scale and see an interesting shot of the dunes taken from the international space station here.