Death Valley Sand Dunes Photography: A How-to Guide

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Consider enriching your personal and photographic experience by trying something like this: Take a long walking tour, following magical light as it evolves and caresses the sands. If direct/frontal light seems too “harsh”, examine other possibilities for sidelight and backlight; these are more dramatic and are my favorite. Deep wells, holes, bowls, and hollows in dune fields can take on sensuous and dramatic shadows during what many photographers might term “bad light”. Keep walking, keep searching, keep changing your direction of view, and don’t forget to think and see in monochrome (when saturated colors have little relevance) for stunning black and white desert photography. Golden Hour? Make it three.

My article “Death Valley Sand Dunes Photography: A How-to Guide” has been published by The Image Flow Photography Center. It’s filled with professional advice on how to make your photographic adventure on the dunes more rewarding. Thank you for reading – enjoy!

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

New Website!

I am pleased to announce the release of my new website!

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It was more than ten long years since my old website first rolled out. In 2018, 58% of total website visits came via mobile devices and it was time for my site to join the 21st century. The old website featured considerably smaller images and was not mobile device compliant, while the new one features an all-new graphical interface as well as responsive and much larger images (reponsive = images that scale properly to any device for maximum resolution and viewing enjoyment). Hundreds of photographs have been reworked for the new site. More work remains to be done and new bodies of work are forthcoming but I am thrilled with the new look and would love to hear what you think about it. Thank you for viewing!

Photographer notes: consider WideRange Galleries if you need a custom website. I’ve been working with Jack Brauer and WideRange for more than a decade and cannot recommend their services enough.

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Presentations & Workshops

_DSC9361-2I will be presenting Death Valley National Park: Magnitude and Mystery to the Lancaster Photography Association (Lancaster, California) on Tuesday, August 20th, 2019. The presentation includes nearly 200 photographs and a wealth of information about the Park’s natural and human history. The meeting is from 6-8pm and is FREE and OPEN to the public. Come on out!

My forthcoming Death Valley autumn/winter workshop season is filling up quickly. Seats remain open in the two following workshops:

https://lacphoto.org/…/death-valley-national-park-with-mic…/
(beginner/intermediate skills)

http://www.visionaryphotoworkshops.com/…/visionary-death-va…
(with Guy Tal; a cerebral and non-technical workshop). We’ve moved this annual workshop earlier in the season to take better advantage of late winter storms and light.

I hope to see you soon in Lancaster or Death Valley!

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Go With the Flow

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Sodium Altocumulus. Death Valley. ©Michael E. Gordon

Ansel Adams stated (The Negative) that

“visualization is a conscious process of projecting the final photographic image in the mind before taking the first steps in actually photographing the subject. Not only do we relate to the subject itself, but we become aware of its potential as an expressive image.”

The photograph presented here (Sodium Altocumulus) looks nothing like what I actually saw on these salt-encrusted desert mud flats. The light was flat, the mud and salt were nearly color-less, yet I instantly saw the altocumulus clouds and recognized the expressive possibilities for this “bland” setting.

This is neither high art nor a masterpiece but it was enjoyable to visualize and make. I enjoy studying it the same way I enjoy studying big sky. This is a location which I return to frequently to indulge my creative needs and practice my form of abstract landscape photography. The location can change dramatically from day to day, even hour to hour. It’s arid year round and the evaporation rate exceeds the rainfall. Regular shallow flooding through winter and spring alters the surface of the flats and begins anew the salt crystallization process. I never know what I will find and I love this.

By foregoing the preconceived singular image (forget the dang shot), I can spend an entire morning out here in a flow state, engaged in nature’s fascinating details, and make numerous stimulating images.

Just go with the flow, man.

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Featured: Black + White Photography magazine

issue-231_GordonI offer my sincere thanks to Susan Burnstine for writing about my work in her monthly column and featuring four of my images in the August 2019 issue (#231) of Black + White Photography magazine (U.K.). The full print magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and at international newsstands. A digital version can be downloaded here. You can also click here to read this article only (content provided COURTESY OF BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE (UK), August issue #231).

After reading the article, please check out Susan’s own critically-acclaimed work. She is one of the few photographers today avidly pursuing alternative processes to create an idiosyncratic and deeply personal visual landscape. I’ve long admired her unique style and process and dream-like images. Thank you, Susan!

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Fireworks and Smoke

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It’s warming up ©2019 Michael E. Gordon

A challenging reality on the desert is heat. If each year it did not occur like clockwork, it would be rather difficult to pry me from this habitat. I’m the shrubfly on the lone stool in the distant stand of creosote; they have to kick me out when its time to close up for the season.

May 2019 was unseasonable on the California desert. Temperatures remained low and precipitation remained high enough to keep things cooler and greener than would be normal for this time of year. Early June temperatures were not quite yet deadly, so I decided to make one last chase: Smoke Trees (Psorothamnus spinosus). The beautiful Smoke tree can be found in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico deserts in dry, low elevation (<1500′) sandy washes. For much of the year they are nondescript and scrappy looking compact trees. In late spring – following a bountiful winter – they can explode with brilliant blue fireworks. After the heat has fried the flowers, they revert to their common appearance: like whisps of smoke rising delicately from a desert wash.

While the photographs may be enjoyable to view, they omit a few important sensory details: the baking heat (if it wasn’t cathartic we wouldn’t spa nor sauna); dry desert winds moving through the wash; and the cacophony of millions of bees (video) and other happy winged insects who gather this bounty (see the attached close-up). This is a living desert.

 


You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

1-Day Workshop: Nature and Landscape Photography in Los Angeles

Untitled-1I will be conducting a day-long Nature and Landscape Photography Workshop in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2019 (hosted by Los Angeles Center of Photography). An ideal workshop for the burgeoning beginning-intermediate nature photographer, we’ll be covering cameras (RAW capture and other vital settings); proper tripod and filter use; exposure (ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture); evaluating the histogram and dynamic range; focusing and depth of field; professional field techniques; and creative composition and understanding light – the works. The day begins with a few hours of indoor class lecture and discussion, followed by a brief group lunch, then travel time to our destination for shooting exercises and practice.

The above photos were wade in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, during a previous edition of this workshop. It’s proof that one needn’t leave home or travel to find beauty and photographs. I will be teaching how to see and work with with these elements. I hope to see you in Los Angeles on July 14! For more information and registration….

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.