Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunrise on the sand dunes

If you have followed my blog you probably already know how much I enjoy being in Death Valley Ca.  The early light on the dunes is magical, and to watch it change so quickly has always amazed me. When I worked with a large format camera and film, I knew I had time for three or four possible setups as the sun came up.  It was a lot of work to fine the location and choose the proper fixed lens to fill the frame with the area of interest. I always worked with black and white film and would use a spot meter to determine the exposure. Most of the time I would meter the shadow area and base that value for my exposure.  I used a red filter many times to increase contrast, and quite often would over develop the negative to gain even more contrast.  The dunes at sunrise can fool your eye into thinking that there is a lot of contrast in the scene.  In reality there are about four stops of light between the bright sunlit side of the dune and the shadow side.  The reason being that there is so much light being reflected back into the shadows from the adjacent dunes.  Working with large format equipment alway posed a challenge when being on the dunes.  Extreme care must be taken to prevent dust and the sand from getting into the film holder or the camera.  I always worked in a slow and methodical process to insure my negatives would be properly exposed and as dust free as possible.  The above image was taken with a digital camera and much of the processing of the image is done long after the image was taken.  Working with a zoom lens means I don't have to change lenses as often and gives me the opportunity to create many more interesting compositions at sunrise.  I have made many fine images of the dunes with a digital camera, but appreciate the ones I made with a large format camera more, knowing the hard work that was involved in achieving them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Traveling the road from Jalpan

Traveling in central Mexico can take you into some beautiful mountains. My wife and I spent many days wondering around these wonderful places in search of small towns and historic locations. On this day we were returning from spending a few days in the mountain town of Jalpan.  I stopped to make a photo of the rugged terrain and noticed a road running up through the mountains. It can be seen in the upper right side of the above photograph. We found the road and went to a beautiful mountain town called San Joaquin.  It is a long and winding road that takes you to the top of the mountain where the town is located, and that is where the road ends. We found San Joaquin to be a delightful town and have made several return trips. We have a friend that lived full time in his RV in Mexico for many years and wrote a wonder blog of his adventures. I had read on one his blog post of his adventures of traveling up and down the mountain to visit the town of San Joaquin. After making the trip in a car I am amazed he ventured out to a high mountain area with his rig.  Reading his blog of traveling in Mexico in an RV gave us the desire to make the trip. Those days we some of the best in our travels. Many thanks to George the "Vagabond Supreme" and his blog.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rock Art

Being in the Saguaro National Park in July is probably not the smartest time for a visit, but you can be certain you will have the place to yourself.  We were in Tucson Arizona this past summer and decided to revisit the Saguaro National Park.  It is a fascinating place that we have visited many times over the years. This was our first visit in the middle of summer and the heat was scorching.  The day we made the short hike to these petroglyphs it was 115*.  As I climb among the boulders in search of the petroglyphs I kept my eye open for rattlesnakes that most certainly were hiding in the rocks. Setting up a tripod and composing an image in the intense heat was exhausting.  I was able to spend about an hour before I felt the heat overwhelming me. After I made my last image I turned to step down over the rocks and had one roll out from under me. I went down head first and hit hard but somehow kept my camera held high and it never smashed into a rocks or the ground. Certainly the good lord was looking after me.  I had a pair of new glasses that flew off my head and went down into the deep pockets among the rocks. I sat up and dusted myself off and took inventory of my situation. I had some scrapes and marks on the tripod but not much more. I thought about my glasses down in the dark hole before me and decided that they could stay there.  Sometimes it is easy to forget where you are when making photographs or become affected by the elements you are working in. I was fortunate to not have broken a bone or damaged my equipment with this fall.  I used a 17~40 zoom lens with a polarizing filter when making this photograph.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Garrapata Beach

    Sea Stack at Garrapata Beach

    Doud Creek at Garrapata Beach

Garrapata Beach is located north of Big Sur on route 1 of the California coast. It is a majestic place where the Pacific ocean crashes into the rocks and cliffs along the shoreline.  I photographed here a few times in my travels and have always come away with new and interesting photographs. These images were taken near the end of the day as the sun was setting.  The climb down to the ocean is not hard but can be a bit difficult getting out once it is dark.  Photographing in these locations can be hazardous and caution should be used when venturing into these areas.  I was told about rouge waves by a photographer friend of mine that lives in Monterey Ca. He cautioned me about a rare wave that comes ashore that is much bigger than all of the other waves coming in. I had a frightening experience with one just a few days later. I always place my camera bag and gear up high on the rocks as I walk with my tripod and camera to find the particular composition I am looking for. On one day I had setup my view camera and realized that I had left my filter in my camera bag and walked back to get it. As I was near my bag I heard a roar like a freight train coming and turned to see a large wave coming to shore. I raced to my camera and grabbed the tripod just as the wave broke around my knees. I was fortunate that I was able to get to my camera but even more fortunate that the wave didn't knock me over. I gained a new respect for photographing near the Pacific ocean and came away a bit shaken by the experienced.
These images were made with a Linhof view camera and Tmax100 film.  A 11x14 print was scanned for posting to the blog.