Thursday, February 26, 2009


The Salt Flats provide some of the most bizarre formations anywhere in Death Valley. When I walk out onto them, they stretch away in every direction - making me feel as though I am on some lonely planet far away. Badwater is the lowest point in North America... 282 feet below sea level - and when it rains, water collects here. However, according to Wikipedia, Death Valley's "1.9 inch average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150-inch annual evaporation rate..." (WOW!) These strange hexagonal patterns are formed as the water evaporates - leaving crystallized salt behind.

I've been to these flats in Death Valley several times, and I am awed by it every time.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank Goodness for Students...

I can't take credit for this one. I would not have this shot if not for our students on this last trip to Death Valley. Two of our students noticed these fantastic cacti and asked if we'd be interested in shooting them. The sky was absolutely amazing, and I'm glad they noticed the location - because Jay and I would have missed it entirely. This spot was one of my favorites from the trip - cacti like this one were scattered across the a perfect desert landscape. :) Thanks guys!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

More dunes...

Mud flats like these lie hidden beneath the Mesquite Dunes - but when the sand is blown aside, the beautiful patterns emerge. The wet conditions had softened the mud, so I didn't step onto the flats... but when it is drier, the mud is hard enough to walk on. The cracks will widen as the weather dries up, and the mud will curl into fantastic patterns.

I took this shot a few minutes after the one in the Feb. 17 post - as we were leaving the dunes. The sun was still peaking through the clouds, and the soft light enhanced the colors on the ground. The sky was heavily textured - which added a lot of interest in this shot. I used a GND filter to help reduce the dynamic range. A tripod is always essential.

I want to take a minute to thank those of you who have commented on my blog, called, or emailed me recently. I appreciate all your kind words about my work, and it means a lot to me to hear from you. I hope I can continue to produce images that meet your expectations. :)

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Thursday, February 19, 2009


One of the things I love about the dunes is that they change so completely from one day to the next. They shift in the wind and are made new with every storm. It's a fascinating place - and a hard one to leave. I would love to be back on those dunes right now. :) It's snowing hard here in Northern Ohio... looks like about three inches since this morning. It's beautiful, though!

I spent some time updating my website yesterday. There are a few more images up, now - you can take a look at the Newest Photographs gallery to see my latest work.

Jay and I are working on content for our upcoming seminar in August. We'll get information about it online before long.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Sands of Time

We spent a couple of mornings shooting in the Mesquite dunes. The sand was wet and heavy - much easier to walk on than usual because it didn't slide away beneath our feet. The light was dull on this morning until we were about to leave. Then, the sun peeked through the clouds for just a few minutes - lighting up the dunes and the mist on the distant mountains with the softest glow. I removed some footprints from this image... as I was setting up to take the shot, Jay walked into the frame on the left. Ah well - I'm happy with the shot despite the extra work required to remove those footprints. :)

I installed PhotoShop CS4 yesterday. I'm a bit unhappy with the slow response time I'm getting, but overall the program is excellent. I'm going to see if I can find a way to improve the speed. I have so many photos I want to process!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

After the Flood

I've processed my first image from our trip to Death Valley. This spot is located between Stove Pipe Wells and Furnace Creek, at the base of the Penamint mountain range. The flooded valley provided a wealth of unusual foreground options, and the sky was just gorgeous. I really like the tiny details in the foreground in this image... there are trails where some miniature creature moved across the sand. Knowing your hyperfocal distance is a real advantage when you're shooting with wide angle lenses. I love capturing those little details because they let the viewer experience the location on a more personal level.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Home - and more rain!

Here we are, back in Cleveland - and it's pouring. Reminds me of Death Valley... hmmm. What's going on here? :) Ah well... it's good to be home, and I'm awfully glad that it's not freezing, here.

I'm glad to be home and looking forward to some sleep. We had a great time! I can't wait to start processing some of my photographs. I'm hoping our students will start sending us some of theirs too. If I can get permission, maybe I'll post a few here.

Thanks to all of you for staying with me this week - hits on my blog increased substantially while we were away. It's great to know that so many people are interested. I hope some of you can join us for our next workshop.

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Wrapping it up...

We shot the setting full moon at Zabriskie Point this morning, then did some processing this afternoon. We shot sunset at Badwater - amazing textures on the ground and a pretty nice sky. We were glad to find the playa dry after such a wet start to the trip.

We did a last bit of processing practice with our students tonight, and we're getting ready to turn in. It's 1 am in Cleveland right now, so I'm pretty tired - especially since we've been up at 5am for the past four mornings. We'll be up at 5am to shoot one last time before we head for the Las Vegas airport.

Overall, I think this was one of our best trips to Death Valley as far as the sky was concerned. The passing storms provided a stunning collection of colors and patterns. Unfortunately, most of the roads in the park were closed - so we never got to visit the Racetrack. Still, we did shoot Mesquite Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Bad Water, Darwin Falls, and a few really nice spots between locations. Not too shabby.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

After the rain...

We had a little bit more rain this morning, and the roads were still closed when we got out of bed at 5:15am. We checked with the rangers and then drove past the blockades to shoot the dunes. Not much of a sunrise, but as we were preparing to pack up and go, the sun made a brief appearance. Later in the day, we drove out to Zabriskie Point and then prepared to shoot the sunset out in the flats somewhere between Stove Pipe Wells and Furnace Creek. The sunset was absolutely beautiful - and the flats gave us some really unusual shots of Death Valley. We have a great group of students this time - all of them are enthusiastic photographers. We've given them a bit of information about the basics to work with - using filters, understanding hyperfocal distance, following the light, camera settings - and now they are getting some experience in the field. We're waiting for downloads now, and we expect to see some really nice work.

Tomorrow - it's supposed to rain again... but we are looking forward to some more of these interesting cloud formations.

I'd love to get some processing done, but it will have to wait until we get home. :)

And finally - to the German gentleman who introduced himself to me today at Zabriskie Point - I'm afraid I can't remember your name! Please send me a link to your images from today! I'm looking forward to seeing them (and being reminded of your name)! I love getting to know other photographers - and it's great to know that people are reading my blog even in Europe. :)

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

And the rain came down...

It's still raining. And raining. And raining. Certainly not your typical Death Valley weather. All the roads in the park are flooded - and closed - and we're stuck in Stove Pipe Wells. Luckily - we have back-up plans for this kind of weather. Our students are practicing some processing... and the storm should be clearing up tonight. We are looking forward to some more unusual shots in the desert tomorrow. A really neat opportunity.

I'm going to get back to work.

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Friday, February 6, 2009


Rain in the desert. Beautiful sky. Update from iPhone.

Death Valley

We'll be on a plane this afternoon - en route to Death Valley, California for our 4-day workshop. We're looking forward to some fantastic skies - we've been watching the weather, and it looks like it will be just right for shooting. The challenge is to be in the right location at the right time... you never know what the sky is going to do on location. So... we have our fingers crossed.

We should be visiting Zabriskie Point, Ubehebe Crater, The Artisit's Palate, The Racetrack, The Salt Flats, Mesquite Dunes, and the Devil's Golf Course. We'll teach some RAW processing skills, and spend as much time as possible in the field. We believe that the best way to learn is by doing... so we'll do as much as possible. :) Can't wait!

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today's Presentation

I'm just about to head out - it's time for another presentation. I'm speaking with a small group today - about Landscape Photography. I'll be talking about lighting, equipment, and what it takes to get some of the shots you see on my website. I'll also touch briefly on some of the research and planning that goes into landscape photography. I always enjoy doing presentations - it's a lot less formal than teaching a class, and I really enjoy getting to know people.

I have another presentation coming up next week - for the Cleveland Photographic Society. That one will focus on shooting for stock and making money from photography. It will be a bit more formal than today's talk, but I'm ready for it.

A busy couple of weeks - presentations, our Death Valley workshop... and more! :)

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Prep Week

All right - I have to say, I love this photo. He went down this hill a hundred times. He'd hit the bump and both he and the sled would fly up into the air... and then he'd come right back down on the sled and finish the hill. Everyone else fell off their sleds over and over again - but not him. He nailed it every time - without a bit of effort. We were laughing so hard our sides hurt. It was great fun shooting in the snow.

I haven't had much time for updating my blog this week - I'm sorry about that. I've been busy preparing for our upcoming workshop in Death Valley. I'll try to keep my blog updated, but once we're in the park, I won't have internet access for a few days.

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