I Am Alive!

I am alive!

Like many photographers, I giddily anticipate the arrival of spring wildflowers every year. More so than in any other place, wildflowers in the arid desert is a truly magical sight to behold. Extraordinarily beautiful, terrifically ephemeral, and entirely without any guarantees that the next spring will deliver the same (or even close). In my case, “the chase” is critically more important than the actual photographs I make. The chase affirms my sanity and confirms my minuscule role in this amazing web we call life. Desert wildflowers have taken thousands of years to develop their punctual annual program, and I am in as much awe of this evolutionary process as I am the results.

The biology and geology of the places I explore are truly amazing, and truth is, the still photograph is usually an entirely insufficient device to sharing these special moments and experiences. The technicals of making good photographs is boringly easy when compared to conveying my deeply personal and passionate feelings for these places. To be sure, the hardest part of my art is not access, organization, or sales; it’s creating images that emote those distinct and unique feelings. How do you transmit through photographs your tears of joy over the stunning moment and place before you? It’s never easy, and I often submit, put away the camera, and enjoy that special moment without any distractions.

The attached photograph is from a few mornings ago; sunrise over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Borrego Badlands. That’s my good friend Johnny enjoying a sweet little backlit patch of Arizona Lupine (Lupinus arizonicus) on a steep and exposed ridge. The large format photographs I had planned for this morning didn’t quite work out, yet this photograph more than makes up for any lost opportunities during my travels. This image does not remind me of the noxious spread of Sahara Mustard across Anza-Borrego; it does not remind me of the blowing wind that prevented a few photographs; nor does it remind me of the uncomfortable-at-times heat: it only reminds me of how sweet it is to be alive, to have all my senses, and to watch a new day dawn over an ephemeral wildflower desert landscape. No photograph can ever rival the beauty of life and these kinds of intimate experiences.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

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My 2010 Workshops and Tours

Large Format Photographer in the Alabama Hills

My first private workshop of 2010 took place last weekend (January 9-10) in the remarkable Alabama Hills and Owens Valley, California. David, Sue, and Erik Haake (David is the Program Director for the West Los Angeles Group of the Sierra Club) hired me for a day of Large Format photography instruction with Erik on Saturday in the Alabama Hills (Erik is seen in the photo at left shooting sunrise in the Alabama Hills), and on Sunday we toured a few special locations in and around the Owens Valley (concluding our tour at an incredible and hidden petroglyph panel in the Volcanic Tablelands). David and Sue are avid birders, and although I can’t currently call myself an avid birder, it is something I have spent a fair amount of time doing in the past and I do have a fair number of species on my life list (even though I don’t keep a life list!). Incidentally, the scope of my guiding was altered last weekend, and according to Sue: “you were a wonderful birding guide to top it off.” Thanks, David, Sue, and Erik, for being wonderful clients!

I am currently have one scheduled 2010 group workshop and three more in the planning stages for this year:

    Introduction to Large Format Photography Workshop. February 13-14, 2010, Alabama Hills, Eastern Sierra (just outside Lone Pine, California). Limited to only 5 photographers; $349 per person. My teaching methods and techniques are direct and easy to comprehend, and I will successfully put you in full control of your camera. At the completion of this intensive two-day workshop, you will be able to efficiently and confidently compose, focus, and expose your own photographs. Click here for more information and to register for this workshop.

    March 6-7, 2010 California Desert Wildflower tour: Our “wet season” started wet (despite the name, it doesn’t always work this way!) and although we had a recent dry and warm spell, things are slated to turn again next week and the state of California should again get quite wet. This may bode well for spring wildflowers in the desert. But my intention is to only lead a tour (likely a one day driving tour) if I can *guarantee* good blooms at the best locations (desert wildflowers are wildly unpredictable). Only time will tell, and I’ll be updating this blog as things develop.

    October 2010 Eastern Sierra Autumn Color Tour: Fall color varies from year to year, but it’s always predictable enough to guarantee great photographs under incredible settings. I’m tentatively planning a three-day tour during the first week of October. The tour will range from Mono Lake in the north to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the south.

    Nov-Dec 2010 Death Valley National Park Backcountry 4WD Workshop/Tour: We will spend about a week driving, hiking, and photographing locations that most photographers have no idea even exist! I have personally driven most of Death Valley National Park backcountry roads (including the most difficult and challenging) and have hiked and photographed locations well off the beaten track. Had enough of Zabriskie Point, Badwater, and the Mesquite Flat dunes? Come tour with me. Logistically speaking, unless I can locate and work with an authorized 4WD outfitter for Death Valley NP (I am currently at work on this), each client will need to provide their own 4WD and advanced driving experience. I’ll continue to update my blog as details develop.

If you have interest in any of these workshops/tours, please leave me a reply or shoot me an email.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

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