Thursday, December 10, 2009

In the Twilight Zone

"Moonset-Zabriski Point, Death Valley"
I find fairly often that the most interesting light actually occurs in that strange few minutes just before sunrise or just after sunset. Not so with something like the dunes in my last couple of posts, where the sunlight really is necessary to bring out the shapes and shadows, but for this one I found it disappointing as soon as the sun broke the horizon and got to work on the scene.
This spot is probably one of the most photographed in all the west, (and that's saying a lot)... every day, busloads of tourists stop in the parking lot, hike up a small hill to the lookout and shoot I would guess tens of thousands of snapshots. Almost every serious photographer stops by here too.. for that reason I've avoided it for all the years since I moved to California, but I have to admit that I'm glad I finally gave it a "shot":)
No busses and only one car in the lot when we arrived about a half hour before sunrise... one other photog and his wife beat me and were already set up and working. Of course I knew there was a full moon that night since we had been camping out nearby, but for some reason it didn't occur to me beforehand that the moon could still be part of the composition... until I got up to the hilltop and noticed that it was still sitting on the horizon, just about to disappear. I had to rush down to the "tripod spot" in front of a small wall and set up in a real hurry in order to get at least a few shots in the can before it set behind the Panamint Mountains off to the west, beyond Badwater. If I had a bit more time, I could have set up something with a telephoto and got the moon really big and fat sitting over Manley Beacon (the sharp, tooth-shaped landmark rock), but hey, you can't have everything. Anyway, I think it really made the shot and my day. The pre-dawn twilight turned out to be by far the best for this view, although some other interesting formations that can be photographed from here in the other direction worked quite well after the sunrise, at least for a few minutes.
It looks great in color, too, but I am kind of leaning towards this B&W interpretation. Be sure to click for a full view, the details and textures of the eroded landscape are really fascinating.
Check out lots of great sky shots every Friday at the Sky Watch home page.
In some photographs the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things...It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators... - Ansel Adams

29 comments:

Guy D said...

Wow this photo is absolutely stunning.

All the best
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Johnny Nutcase said...

Very nice..i could see it in color also, but I think b & w works perfectly. I hear you about avoiding hot spots, but this picture is great, you definitely can't complain - glad you had the place pretty much to yourself!

Artlover said...

Great view and great photo in B/W. Stunning

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Thank yo for adding a bit of information abut the shot as well as the photo itself!

Sylvia K said...

Wow is right! What a stunning and dramatic capture, Mark! I love it!

Enjoy your weekend!

Sylvia

Eve said...

This view is amazing! And the jagged peaks are perfect in the b&w!

Rune (Bildebloggen) said...

Amazing,absolutely stunning shot, and a great shot.

Gaelyn said...

I really like the B&W, it looks like you're on the moon. I can see it was a mistake not to get to Zabrinski Pt. Next time. Great capture, even under pressure. ;-)

Julie said...

The definition and the clarity set me back on my heels. The decision to go with B&W was inspired.

That little "road" in the foreground puts it all into perspective.

Hey, I like your text, too. Good to read it through with you.

J Bar said...

Cool.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

storybeader said...

gosh, that looks like another world. Now, where is this? lol California?

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Sometimes going for the 'stock' shot can be fun and you got your own version of it. Looks very impressive.

Glen Hartjes said...

Great shot Mark.

Debbie @Like a Rose said...

Great photo - stunning in B&W

Light and Voices said...

Excellence your game. Top shelf work weekly. You are amazing!
Joyce

roentarre said...

Mark, you are absolutely right that the moment before a significant weather change usually casts an amazing lighting in the sky just like this one you have posted.

Wow, what else can I say?!

Regarding my recent post, there was a nice moody sky but the exposure gets a little tricky...

Mook said...

I often think the rush shot works out best because you have to go on instinct? and this one is a belter.

The B&W works really well, looking at this compo personally in this case I think it works a lot better than a telephoto fat moon shot would. Nice one!

Arija said...

I absolutely concur with you about the twilight and those magical few second looking west as the sun rises and lends glory to the landscape.
A very beautiful dreamscape indeed..

betchai said...

never been at Zabriskie at sunrise, and we missed also the sunset last time, your picture is amazing, this is the best Zabriskie picture i've seen so far. am glad you went there and photographed it, you are sharing to us an amazing gift and talent, am lost for the right words to say, all i know is that i am looking at really an amazing picture.

Highton-Ridley said...

One of your best shots I've seen -- no, your BEST shot I've seen, Mark.

It's a beautiful quality of light and there's so much interest in the shot. The lead-in and leading lines take your eyes through a journey of gorgeous texture and contrast. Exquisite!

I've seen so much that is good but not astonishing lately that it's kind of deflated the creative in me. But this has picked me right up. Thanks for sharing :)

Patrick said...

The large view is outstanding Mark !

I don't know why but i feel there an himalaya smell :)

Mark Alan Meader said...

Mark:
I appreciate the kind words.. and thanks also for the mention on your blog today... that was a surprise as I was skimming down my reading list.
Once in a while, planning, effort and serendipity all come together and something really good results.. we're never certain where or when, but that makes it more interesting and challenging, right?:) It's what I work for as I'm sure you do also.

Patrick:
Thanks.. that's funny about the Himalayas.. the flat area you can see just below the mountains on the horizon is actually below sea level.. the lowest point in the U.S.:)

Betchai: Thanks.. I know this is one of our favorite places; glad you like it.

Thanks to everyone for all your nice comments!

The Retired One said...

Awesome! At first it looked like a shot taken from a plane of clouds...it is amazing!

kyungmee said...

beautiful! Like a dream scene..great work as always!!

BT said...

Wow, that's about all I can say. Stunning shot.

Maria said...

Wow, amazing photo! I've never been to Death Valley. Saw this link on a Highton Ridley post. He had a great photo for that Desiderata poem...this one would be great too. :) Maria

corfubob said...

Something puzzles me about this shot Alan. Was a montage involved at all? I was brought up on monochrome photography, and you use it to perfection because your compositions are balanced. Classic work.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Hi corfubob:
Thanks for for your interest and comments. If you mean by "montage", piecing together elements, a resounding "no". I might occasionally take something out, but not in. I do, however, often composite multiple exposures to increase the dynamic range in high contrast situations, since digital sensors still can'y reproduce the range that film used to have. Not really "HDR", but similar. The only use of that on this image was in the moon, which was of course burned out from the long exposure needed for the rest of the scene.

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