Hi everyone and welcome to today’s post. This shot was made on a winter trip to Death Valley with my shooting pals Alec Johnson and Travis Bechtel. The trip was singularly marked by some of the most amazing weather I have ever experienced on a trip. Amazing clouds, light, and color greeted our eager eyes every morning and evening. As a matter of practice for this trip we opted to focus our shooting time for the week on just a few areas. For most photographers Death Valley can impart upon you the “kid in the candy store” syndrome. The desire to hit every spot or slam on the brakes to scout all the interesting landforms is certainly understandable. But in my experience it leads to a kind shooting madness without focus and direction. The best way to experience big places is to reduce the macro scale of the landscape to the micro. Micro in this case, at least for the way I think, is a search for intimacy within the grandness. It takes some discipline but the end results are better. Except for a side trip to the Alabama Hills we concentrated our shooting to Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and the Salt Creek Flats. We revisited each of these places more than once exploring morning and evening light. Make no mistake these landscapes are grand and vast, macro in every sense of the word, spreading for mile after mile as far as the eye can see. We were able to reduce the macro to the micro because we stopped and simply spent time there. We were not there to “get THE shot”, rush back to the car, and move on to something else. If you do this you will open up to the landscape and it will open up to you.
I saw these crusty upheavals several days before and became fascinated with their architecture. Why here? What forces of time and temperature converged to lift them above the white salt flats. Like small islands they seemed to float on a white tide, separate but yet anchored by their own roots into the soil. On this incredible evening I found myself back at the formations and a composition that had yet eluded me came to fruition. Stretching overhead, tendrils of sunlit fire draped the sky in a curtain of red, orange, and magenta. The Panamint Mountains were shrouded in the cool blue tones of twilight, their size dwarfed by the immense cloud formation moving overhead. The white salt glowed in the dying light. All of this became the perfect backdrop for the “crusty islands”. Here I could reveal something intimate about the landscape and layer it into a story about the place. Micro in this case meets macro.
Technical Details: This image is a composite of three separate exposures. Each exposure was processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.0 and then exported to Adobe Photoshop where the exposures were hand blended into a starting file. From there it followed a workflow that included Smart Sharpening, Luminosity Curve Adjustments, Selective Color Layers, and Dodging and Burning.
Thanks for stopping by today.