The Exciting Monsoon Season opens soon on a desert near you!

Weather does not happen. It is the visible manifestation of
the Spirit moving itself in the void.
” Mary Hunter Austin

_DSC7198

Cloud shadows on the Cottonwood Mountains, Death Valley National Park

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.

Lessons in Light and Visualization

There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” photographic light. There is just light.
Brooks Jensen, LensWork.

Just last week, while photographer Floris van Bruegel and I walked towards Death Valley National Park’s Ibex Dunes, Floris commented that I used direct light in my photographs more than most photographers. I harbor no shame about this, and believe that I’m at an advantage in being able to visualize photographs in whatever available light is before me. While many nature and landscape photographers would have you believe that we are limited to the Golden Hours or to the twilight found at each end of the day, there simply exists light that best benefits your subject or light that is less than ideal for your subject. If you’ll contend that the light is “bad”, I’ll counter that you’re just looking in the wrong direction.

VoyagerThe photograph at left, Voyager, was made in the extreme southern end of Death Valley (the Valley proper, that is) last Wednesday. The time was 9:30am. I was up at 5:30am that morning. I had already covered a fair bit of ground, and had even cooked and eaten breakfast by the time I found this scene. I would estimate that 99 of 100 photographers would have told me that this was horrible light and no photographs could be made. Were it not for my experience and ability to visualize a scene in the final print (there is no such thing as PREvisualization!), I might have concurred. Fact is, were it not 9:30am and had the sun not been beating harshly on this wet mud, I doubt that I would have ever been able to see this. Before you rule out “bad” light, rule out your preconceptions and make the exposure. For digital photographers, this costs nothing. For film photographers, it costs only a modest amount to expand your seeing and possibilities. What could you possibly have to lose?

Voyager - raw film scan

Voyager - raw film scan

I’m about to do something here that I don’t believe I have ever done online before: share a raw film scan of the original negative (no manipulation). A cursory glance at the raw negative might lead one could suggest that this is “bad” light, but the proof is in the final print. The exposure was calculated to preserve all highlight and shadow details (no bracketing; no guesswork; I teach my film exposure techniques during my film-based workshops). From the moment I found the scene, I visualized not “bad” light or a difficult-to-print negative; I saw a voyaging vessel in a distant galaxy and a luminous final print. When Ansel talked about “visualization”, he was referring to this ability to visualize a final print (not the “capture“). I would venture that this is one of the most difficult if not liberating ways of seeing. If one cannot visualize the final print, one is not seeing the light 😉

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

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Photo, picture: Cracked Mud and Shadows II

Cracked Mud and Shadows II

Cracked Mud and Shadows II

Here’s a slightly different take on the cracked mud and shadows image from a couple of days ago. Same area, different shrubs and composition. I appreciate your thoughts and comments!

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

Photo, picture: Cracked Mud and Shadows

Cracked Mud and Shadows

Cracked Mud and Shadows

I made this photo just a few days ago in Caineville, Utah. Guy Tal and I photographed the area at sunrise and were killing time while waiting for the Mesa Farm Market to open. If ever you’re passing through, you must try Randy’s awesome bread and pesto!

This is a photograph of a dried and cracked mudflow being raked by low-angled shrub shadows. I love the ‘etched’ effect that the shadows impart on the cracked mud.

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