Category Archives: B&W
Alabama Hills – Yes the sky was working this day!
Whose vision are you chasing? Chuck Kimmerle’s latest post is excellent, stop now and go read it. No really, go read it, it is essential reading. Alright, now that you’re back, his post validated what I have been teaching in my new lecture “Discovery and the Creative Process” The last slide in the presentation is a quote from Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” My commentary is typically something like…. in the end we need to be confident in our own vision, in our ability to discover worthy images that make our hearts sing. We should not be worried about what others think, rather we should be worried about how we feel about what we are creating. As Chuck says, and I agree, we are human so positive feedback is good and oft times welcome. BUT, it should not be why we make images. My friend Donnie Fulks said this when responding to Chucks post, “when I joined 500px, it took me about two days to figure out what kind of image will garner 5,000 views. Yes, I admit that stokes the old ego.” Then Donnie went on to talk about sharing a “personal favorite image” that only received 50 views let alone any likes. What now? Does he abandon his vision? Does he post only images that will resonate with others and get him to the front page, lots of hits? Or does he continue to create images that comply with his unique vision?
Might I ask why you photograph? Is it for the joy of it? To create images to sell? To create images so that you can earn a living? To create images that feed your soul? To create images that others like that make you feel worthy, stroke your ego? To create images that remind (memories) you of the journey you are on? Why? There is no right or wrong answer, however, I think it instructive to understand why we do what we do. I photograph because it feeds my soul. I don’t print many images. I don’t actively market my images for sale. I love the process of making and processing images. Yes, I enjoy the positive feedback, however, ultimately I’ve come to a place where I don’t need others approval to like what I produce.
So, whose vision are you chasing?
I can’t help it, one more from the Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley. How I love these dunes!
I’ve been spending more and more time with the Perfectly Clear plug-in, trying it on all of my images just to see what I get. Never tried it on B&W but did on this. I felt I had it just right, however, Perfectly Clear gave it another bit of “POP” that I really liked. It was just a tad heavy handed, so I simply created a layer to put it on and then blended it at about 60% opacity. If you would like to try Perfectly Clear or save 20% just click this link.
I mentioned Trona in my last post. This image is from what is called the Trona Pinnacles. There you will find Tufas much like those at Mono Lake but without the lake. For this image I used two Singh-Ray filters, the 10 stop Mor-Slo along with my LB warming polarizer. Using a polarizer with a Mor-Slo can be a challenge as you can’t see what is going on. To get this to work, I simply held the polarizer in front of me and rotated it as I looked through it until I saw the desired effect. I made note of where that was by a reference on the ring of the filter. I then screwed the filter on and rotated it to the pre-determined reference mark. Using the polarizer achieved two things, one it polarized the sky and two because its a LB (Lighter Brighter) polarizer, it gave me another stop plus for a much longer mid day exposure.
As we traveled from Trona to Death Valley, I saw this sky developing. The problem was finding a foreground worthy of putting with it. We drove for a few miles and I finally decided that the foreground was not near as important as the sky. The sky was the subject. As such I filled the frame with it and let the small strip of land give it a base. Oft times I’ll find myself suggesting this concept to those on a workshop. Ask yourself, what is the subject and if it is the sky, make it so. Sure it would have been nice to have an old abandoned building, rusted car or some other great subject to put with the great sky, but I’m okay with this just the way it is.
When we were in Death Valley, our focus was the dunes, however, we decided to take one run at Zabriskie for sunrise. It is an iconic spot not to be missed. We picked the right day as we were treated to a great moment. By far the best sunrise light and clouds I’ve seen there. I’ve included a color and B&W version.
Fuji X-E2 – 18-55 lens at 18mm
The mesquite wave sounds like something fans would do at a football game. In this case, I was doing the Mesquite wave in Death Valley! I just fell (literally on my knees to get low) in love with this shape and am thrilled with the result. I cropped a bit off the top as there was just too much negative space.
“S’Wonderful, S’Marveloous, you should care for me” This is the first line from the song entitled S’Wonderful. I love Diana Krall’s version and am listening to it as I compose this post. I have no idea why this song popped into my mind other than I tend to associate songs with words all the time. I hear a word and a song comes to mind and I start singing it. Ask my family, I believe it drives them nuts. That said, it is how I feel about the dunes. They are wonderful and marvelous and full of infinite possibilities. This composition screamed to be a square. Well, it didn’t actually scream but a voice in my head did…..
As Stephen said in his comment to my last post, you can’t plan on great conditions when you’re on a schedule leading a photo tour. You’re at the mercy of what is given you. As I see it, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Let me share a story. I was leading a workshop, a short weekend type. It was during the fall and the colors that year were stunning! We had not spent more than 3 hours together when a participant came to me and said they were going home. I asked why, was it something I had done? She replied, “no, its just I’m not finding what I came for.” Perplexed, I suggested, maybe you will find something better! But you see, she had an assignment for the photo club and was focused on that. The conditions and the area I picked that morning might not have been good for what she was looking for but they were great for many other things. She was simply not open to finding another right answer. I found that to be sad.
Fast forward to the Alabama Hills. We arrived late in the day during the scouting portion of our last tour. When I go to the Alabama Hills, I’m thinking about the rock formations and hoping for great clouds. When we arrived, there were no clouds. No problem, I turned around and saw this great situation brewing around Mount Whitney. Another right answer! I could have said, “I’m not finding what I came for” but instead I found something else! Its all about attitude. If you don’t think you’ll find something, you probably won’t.