Desert Portraits

Riz Orkestra

Riz Orkestra

I had great fun on Monday making portraits for two longtime creative friends. D.R. Lunsford (Douglas) will soon publish his first collection of short stories featuring one of my portraits on the cover (I’m looking forward to reading it, Doug!). ‘Riz Orkestra is an amazing self-described “one-man-folk-roots-blues-band” who will hopefully soon be releasing another CD (we listened to fresh takes while driving) and I hope he’ll consider using my portrait of him. This article describes Riz as a musical “savant” – check him jamming on the Dobro, beautifully soloing on a Steinway, tearing it up on the vibraphone, and grooving on the blues slide guitar – Riz has immense talent. I’ve known him for

D.R. Lunsford

D.R. Lunsford

more than 20 years and he is one of the most gifted musicians (and people) I’ve listened to and with whom I have had the opportunity to jam with, record with, and photograph. Riz is The Master.

Doug’s portrait was made mid-day at Thousand Palms Oasis in Coachella Valley and Riz’s was made in Joshua Tree National Park near dusk. I used a single strobe, light stand, and umbrella for both. Enjoy, and please keep an eye out for D.R.’s book and Riz’s CD.

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on FacebookGoogle+, and  Twitter.

STOP the Proposed Silurian Valley Wind/Solar Project!

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

Dear Readers and friends of the California Desert, I need your help opposing the proposed Silurian Valley Solar/Wind Project which is slated for development southeast of Death Valley National Park. On Thursday, March 27, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold two separate public comment forums (1:30-4:30 p.m. and 6:00-9:00 p.m) – please attend one of these meetings to submit your comments (I will be there). The proposed project would be a 200 megawatt solar facility consisting of multiple arrays of photovoltaic panels, 44 miles of service roads, a project substation, an operation & maintenance facilities including an aerial generation transmission line and impact 7,219 acres of public lands administered by the BLM approximately 10 miles north of Baker, San Bernardino County, along State Highway 127. Silurian Valley remains in a nearly pristine state just outside Death Valley National Park and is simply the wrong location for this project. In mid-2013, National Geographic released a special publication entitled ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Places‘ in which the Mojave Desert was named as one of the 100 most remarkable destinations:

“Far from the madding metropolitan crowds of Las Vegas and Los Angeles that surround it, the Mojave Desert offers the balm of silence and solitude. Canyons, giant mesas, mountains, towering dunes, and vast, dust-dry plains make up one of North America’s most elemental landscapes. It is a world little touched by humans, save for the odd crumbling mine or homestead, but one which nature adorns with the beauty of the Joshua tree and spring’s brief-lived wildflowers…”

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

Renewable energy projects should be smart from the start, but the  proposed Silurian Valley Solar/Wind Project is the poster child for inappropriately sited renewable energy projects which threatens scenic view-sheds and important wildlife habitat. With your help we can help the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to understand the full range of impacts this project proposes for wildlife, viewshed, Death Valley National Park, and adjacent Wilderness Study Areas. Together we can ensure that the BLM does not blindly approve this harmful project (what’s wrong with “green” energy?).

Preceding the BLM meeting will be a meeting at the Mojave National Preserve headquarters in Barstow, California, from 3-4pm on March 27,  conducted by David Lamfrom of the National Parks Conservation Association who will discuss this project, its proposed impacts, and what we can do about it. I urge you to attend this meeting so that you can be armed with facts to use in your arguments against the project.

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

©2013 Michael E. Gordon

Please join me Thursday, March 27 in Barstow to speak against and submit comments opposing this destructive project! If you cannot attend, I urge you to please submit written comments by April 25, 2014 to:

Katrina Symons
BLM Barstow Field Manager
2601 Barstow Road
Barstow, CA 92311
or by email at Silurian_Valley_Solar@blm.gov

 

Please share this post widely with others who care about our National Parks, protecting public lands and open space from corporate development, desert wildlife and views, and with those who care about holding renewable energy developers responsible for not harming our world-famous deserts (tourists travel from around the world to take in our vast and timeless desert views). Together we will kill this proposal. PLEASE HELP STOP the Silurian Valley Solar/Wind Project!

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on FacebookGoogle+, and  Twitter.

STOP the Proposed Soda Mountain Solar Project!

Proposal zone from the tip of the proposed North Array. This entire view would be covered by PVT panels. In the background is the Mojave National Preserve.

Proposal zone from the tip of the proposed North Array. This entire view would be covered by PVT panels. In the background is the Mojave National Preserve.

Dear Readers and Friends of the California Desert, I urge your action against the proposed Soda Mountain Solar Project, south of Death Valley National Park and proposed for development immediately adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve. Renewable energy projects should be smart from the start, but the proposed Soda Mountain Solar Project is the poster child for inappropriately sited renewable energy projects and threatens the Mojave National Preserve, bighorn sheep migration corridors, desert tortoise habitat, the endangered tui chub pup fish, and scenic view-sheds. With your help we can force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to understand the full range of impacts this project proposes for wildlife, viewshed, the Mojave National Preserve and adjacent Wilderness Study Areas. Together we can ensure that the BLM does not blindly approve this harmful project (what’s wrong with “green” energy?).

The Soda Mountain Solar Project is a 350-megawatt photo-voltaic electric power generating plant proposed on 4,397 acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) some six miles southwest of Baker, California and immediately adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve  (yes, immediately adjacent to a

Proposal zone from the southwestern tip of the proposed South Array. This entire view would be covered by PVT panels. In the background is the Mojave National Preserve.

Proposal zone from the southwestern tip of the proposed South Array. This entire view would be covered by PVT panels. In the background is the Mojave National Preserve.

National Park). The application by Soda Mountain Solar, LLC requests a right-of-way authorization to construct a solar field on 2,691 acres, a project substation, an access road, operations and maintenance buildings, and to realign approximately 3.3 miles of Rasor Road. The Sierra Club’s Desert Report recently featured a piece on this proposal which outlines this tragedy in the making. Author Sid Silliman explains that “[t]he consequences for the Mojave National Preserve are of special concern because the project threatens not only the particular resources and landscape that Congress mandated to be protected by the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, but the very integrity of this treasured unit of the National Park System.”

Public meetings for the proposed project will be held on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday, January 9, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Comfort Suites, 2571 Fisher Blvd., in Barstow, California. There will also be a public meeting on Saturday, January 11 from 1-4pm at the Travel Lodge in Yucca Valley, California (54850 29 Palms Hwy). Please consider attending the National Parks Conservation Association’s Soda Mountains Solar Workshop on Friday, January 10 from 4-6pm at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery. This workshop will be hosted by my friends and desert saviors Chris Clarke, David Lamfrom, and Seth Shteir who will discuss this project, its proposed impacts, and what can be done about it. Please attend one of these meetings (join me at Wednesday’s meeting in Barstow) to speak against or submit comments opposing this destructive project. If you cannot attend, I urge you to please submit comments by March 3, 2014 to:

by mail:
Jeffrey Childers, Project Manager
BLM California Desert District Office
22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos
Moreno Valley, CA 92553

by email:

jchilders@blm.gov


or by fax:

(951)697-5229

Meetings schedule recap:

  • Wednesday Jan 8 in Barstow 6pm-9pm Comfort Inn and Suites (join me at this one)
  • Thursday Jan 9 in Barstow 1pm-4pm Comfort Inn and Suites
  • Friday Jan 10 at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery on Hwy 62 in Joshua Tree, CA 4pm-6pm. (Pre-Meeting) Speakers Chris Clarke, David Lamfrom (NPCA), and Seth Shteir (NPCA) will discuss this project, its proposed impacts, and what you can do about it.
  • Saturday Jan 11 in Yucca Valley 1pm-4pm Travelodge

Please share this post widely with others who care about our National Parks, protecting desert wildlife and views, and with those who care about holding renewable energy developers responsible for not harming our world-famous deserts (tourists travel from around the world to take in our vast and timeless desert views). Together we will kill this proposal. PLEASE HELP STOP the Soda Mountain Solar Project!

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on FacebookGoogle+, and  Twitter.

A Fruitful Year

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Over the course of four nights last week, I observed  the peak of the 2013 Geminid meteor shower from my private bivouac above the floor of Mesquite Flats (in what was dubbed this year as the “largest international dark sky park“). The desert silence was profound and I was reveling alone in my fortune as a very lucky man. I’m not able to mention the typical darkness, as a near full moon flooded the Valley with spectacular nightlight, making the dunes plain to see well after nightfall. I was in Death Valley National Park – my home away from home in recent years – leading my final photo workshop of 2013 and reminiscing about the spectacular year I have been privileged to enjoy. It’s been a fulfilling year of exciting experiences in nature and wilderness (alone and with a few close friends), excellent growth in all segments of my photographic business, and many stimulating exchanges with inspired photographers who sought my workshops, tours, and training – I cannot thank all of you enough!

On the other hand, I apologize to all who patiently and eagerly wait blog entries and Facebook posts. My life, business, and travel are busier than ever before which has _MG_9340left little time for social media. I admit it: I have no social media “campaign” and have never found it to be an enjoyable medium that works for me and my personality (even though most would likely refer to me as sociable). My limited time at the computer is spent doing what must be done, and I’ve never considered “chat rooms” a must-do. I’ve instead been aggressively building on what I value most: Real life experiences and photographic journeys. Neither require a cell signal, internet connection, or any sort of campaign, and yet both have been tremendously successful for me in 2013.

Over the last calendar month, I’ve exhibited in two Southern California fine art festivals and have led two group workshops. I’ve hardly been able to keep up. The photo above left is my L.A. Center for Photography workshop on Death Valley’s Mesquite Dunes, and the one below and right is my Introduction to Large Format Photography workshop group enjoying a very special canyon last weekend. My sincere THANKS to all the wonderful participants (Amr, Daniela, Graham, Joe, John, Jorge, Jovanna, Ken, Kevin, Michael, Mike, Scott – thank you!) who joined me to learn in and explore one of the most fascinating places on earth.

_MG_9192As the sun begins to set on 2013, I thank you all for being patient readers and inspirational photographers. I hope your year was as joyous as mine and I wish everyone a radiant 2014. Happy holidays!

A few brief announcements:

* Guy and I have just had a cancellation and now have one space available in our February 20-25, 2014 Visionary Death Valley workshop. All of our Visionary workshops have been sold out; come find out why!

* My next  Introduction to Large Format Photography workshop is March 7-9, 2014 and still has spaces available. Kevin J. Mellis took part in last week’s large format workshop and demonstrated his kindness by referring to me an “awesome instructor”.

* My next  L.A. Center for Photography workshop at Death Valley is March 13-16, 2014; this workshop has just opened for registration and is expected to sell out. Register now!

* New for 2014! I’ve added a Fundamentals of Digital Photography workshop for novice photographers. This short and inexpensive workshop will give you all the tools you need to understand your camera, photographic basics, and basic post-production techniques.

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on FacebookGoogle+, and  Twitter.

The Joshua Tree Fine Art Folio

The Joshua Tree collector's folio - Michael E. GordonI am very pleased to announce the official release of my new The Joshua Tree collector’s folio. This beautiful folio features twelve of my photographs from The Joshua Tree collection and measures 11×14” – conveniently sized for easy framing – with each image measuring approximately 8×10”. These beautiful prints are a delight to hold in the hand and they’re made using the same archival materials and techniques as all of my gallery prints, featuring rich warm/sepia tone carbon pigment inks on delicately textured fine art German Etching paper (a perfect match to the texture of the Joshua tree). Each open-edition folio is sequentially numbered with a title page, artist statement, and all twelve photographs arriving in a handsome embossed die-cut art paper enclosure.

My good friend and fellow photographer Guy Tal had some flattering things to say about this new folio on a recent blog post“I can say without hesitation that this collection is among the most beautiful things I own…If you are one who appreciates the power of an exquisitely conceived and printed photograph, you will cherish this portfolio.” Thank you, Guy!

The Joshua Tree and  Desert fine art folios make wonderful holiday gifts for those who appreciate fine photography and the well-crafted print. Order yours today in time for the holidays!

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on Facebook, Google+, and  Twitter.

Upcoming Exhibitions

I’ll be exhibiting my work at Art Under the Umbrellas on November 30 in Old Town La Quinta (in the Coachella Valley, east of Palm Springs). This is a one-day show, Saturday only, and I’ll be present and showing my work from 10am to 4pm. You can find out more about this show and its location hereArt Under the Umbrellas is FREE to attend and I’d love to see you and share my work with you. 

My photograph Juniper Study will be shown in the inaugural 2013 Joshua Tree National Park Art Show, opening reception on Friday, December 6 from 5-8pm at the 29 Palms Art GalleryFifty Juniper Studyartists from California, across the nation, and as far away as England, have been selected for this juried art show with their artwork inspired by the unique natural beauty and cultural history of Joshua Tree National Park. I will not be in attendance, however, due to my overlapping Death Valley photography workshop, but I hope you’ll attend and have a wonderful time. Don’t forget to include a visit to the Park (Joshua Tree, that is) as part of your experience. Here is more information regarding the 2013 Joshua Tree National Park Art Show.

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Upcoming Exhibitions – Oct/Nov 2013

Beverly Hills Art Show. October 19-20, 2013I’ll be exhibiting my work once again at the Beverly Hills Art Show on October 19-20, 2013. This wonderful outdoor show takes place on Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills, between Rodeo Drive and Rexford Drive. I’ll be present both days from 10am to 5pm and would love to meet you and show you my work (I’ll be in space 342 between Canon and Crescent Drives) . This show is FREE and more information can be found here.

On November 9-10, 2013 I’ll be exhibiting my work at the Rancho Mirage Art Affaire in Rancho Mirage, California (east of Palm Springs). The Affaire is FREE, and more information can be found here.

I hope to see you soon in Beverly Hills or Coachella Valley!

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Eastern Sierra Nevada Autumn Color

In just a few weeks the wonder of autumn color will begin to decorate the canyons of the eastern Sierra Nevada. These lemon-lime, yellow, gold, and orange slopes and canyons draw scores of photographers each year – myself included - from late September through early November as the color moves from the highest elevations down towards the floors of the valleys. The where-to and how-to photograph autumn color are well-covered on other sites (including the wonderful and thorough Eastern Sierra page of G. Dan Mitchell). This entry is not a prognostication for the coming 2013 season, but  I will promise you this: this year’s Autumn color may be early, late, great, or poor. In other words, climate change and continuing California drought makes color forecasting a folly (the Eastern Sierra has experienced multiple years of “average” – not great – color). And after a 17% of normal snowpack 2012/2013 winter, what will happen with this year’s color is anyone’s guess. The best way to ensure that you’ll photograph during the peak of color is to follow the numerous online reports and to simply invest as much of your time photographing as you can. Good photographs rarely arise from limited photographic itineraries.

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Choking at Olmsted Point

Shauna and I arrived in Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite National Park) on August 30 with the intent of a few days of technical rock climbing and hiking (a long-running annual outing for us). What we didn’t know is that earlier that day the wind current had shifted, blanketing Tuolumne Meadows and the eastern Sierra in the thick, acrid smoke of the Sierra Nevada’s Rim Fire (now the third largest in California’s history). On the 31st – with out eyes still burning – we drove to Olmsted Point to assess conditions (photo to left). I was able to download Howard Scheckter’s wonderful weather report  which confirmed our bad timing and a couple more smokey days in Yosemite’s high country. Everything looked and felt sad, so we departed from Yosemite and headed south to the smoke-free zone.

South Lake - GONE!

South Lake – GONE!

We ended up in familiar Bishop Creek Canyons and Rock Creek Canyon for the next few days. The weather was beautiful, the temperatures cool, and the smoke nearly invisible. I did not expect to find any autumn color. We headed to South Lake hoping to paddle our kayak, but what we found was shocking: A nearly disappeared South Lake! I observed and photographed two vest-wearing fishermen walking the bathtub rings of the lake bottom who were likely as shocked as I was. South Lake is an Edison-managed power-generating reservoir, but I have never seen it look like this. Many photographers are accustomed to shooting the colored slopes and shimmering lake – not this year! Many trees and aspen groves around South Lake exhibited surprisingly early color (some rather advanced yellows and oranges). This is not a forecast, but the arrival of color as much as 30 days early is not a good sign.

Lake Sabrina - GONE!

Lake Sabrina – GONE!

In search of water and paddling, we headed next to the North Fork and Lake Sabrina. More shock and awe – Sabrina was GONE! I found the “PLEASE BE CAREFUL” sign to be a rather sad and ironic statement on this water-less and boat-less reservoir. Many photographers are also accustomed to shooting these colored slopes and shimmering lake – not this year!

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PRINTS FOR SALE – click for details and larger view

Still in search of water and paddling opportunities, we found ourselves in Rock Creek Canyon the next day. Here is where I observed some of the most advanced aspen color (September 1??). The photo at right was made on September 2 in a location that I visit and photograph each year, typically during the first week of October. This small grove was in peak color on September 2, and these leaves will be gone with the the coming season’s first strong winds.

Although climate change is still denied by many, those of us who spend much time outside see obvious signs everywhere.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. Please visit his official website  for more information.

Photograph: Arterial Hypnosis

Arterial Hypnosis

The Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park. Made before sunrise on a cold January morning on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa. 4×5″ camera and film.

Guy Tal and I would love to have you join us at The Racetrack and other spectacular Death Valley locations during this November’s Visionary Death Valley photo workshop.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. Please visit his official website  for more information.

Feel the Heat – Death Valley

The digital thermometer at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center displays 132 Fahrenheit at 3:39pm on June 30, 2013. The correct temperature was 129 Fahrenheit as officially read and reported by the National Park Service at 4pm. This is a new high temperature record for June 30. Death Valley National Park, California.By now you’ve likely heard that Death Valley set a new high temperature record on Sunday, June 30, 2013: 129 Fahrenheit. I have a long history in Death Valley and spend a lot of time in the Park each year (DeathValleyPhotoTours), so when the prognostications started flying regarding Death Valley’s potential to break its own heat record (134F, recorded July 10, 1913) I had to be there.

We arrived at the Badwater parking lot just after 2pm, our target time. There were a surprising number of people: Europeans are known to relish this heat and enjoy summer holidays in Death Valley. CNN was also present, talking with tourists and conducting a classic solar-radiation-egg-frying experiment in the parking lot (unfortunately, too many are conducting this experiment). Our thermometers indicated the temperature was around 121-122F, which was confirmed by CNN. I was initially disappointed. I expected Badwater to be HOT HOT (the Weatherspace.com believes it was hotter).

We moved on to the Furnace Creek Resort, where outside the general store hung an old analog thermometer with its needle beyond its maximum high temperature of 130F. We enjoyed the oven-like concentration of heat under the shade of the date palms. Even in the shade, the breeze was akin to the heat blast you receive when you open an oven door. It felt hotter than Badwater.

We moved over to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center after 3:30pm to find a throng of tourists, media, and two guys dressed in Darth Vader and Chewbacca outfits. The digital sign out front displayed 132F, although this thermometer is affected by direct solar radiation and is inaccurate. Just minutes later at 4pm the National Park Service took its official reading of 129 degrees Fahrenheit.

Around 4pm we were ten miles north of Furnace Creek moving towards Stovepipe Wells (and eventually the cooler heights of the Panamint Mountains) when the air conditioning failed in my wife’s car! It was fine by us, but extra measures were required to keep our dog Mojave cool in the 120F+ temperatures while we moved across the desert. We arrived at Mahogany Flats around 5pm where the temperature was beautiful and the high views of the hot desert sublime.

Indeed, 120F+ is HOT, but if one is dressed properly, well hydrated, in good health and operating smartly, it’s not near as bad as you’d believe. It occurred to me upon my arrival home that in calendar year 2013 I’ve experienced a temperature swing in Death Valley National Park of 126 degrees: It was 3F on the Racetrack on a bitterly cold January morning, and 129F at Furnace Creek on June 30. Death Valley: The Land of Extremes.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. Please visit his official website  for more information.