Monday, December 27, 2010

Moving further down the road as it materializes. I'm heading back west during my winter break. I'll be starting in Nevada and heading towards Death Valley. I'd like to also visit Zion and Bryce Canyon, but it will be depend upon the weather. I have no reservations so my wandering will only be limited by my threshold for enduring cold nights.

My flight will be arriving in Las Vegas after dark, so I will enter Death Valley not knowing what I'm driving through until the next morning, which is the best way to see a new place. As I've said before, seeing a place for the first time at night gives you a chance to get a feel for the environment through your more basic senses without biasing yourself through sight. Even when the sun rises and you can finally see your surroundings, the impression on your other senses will always remain to enrich your experience there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lush could be the word used to describe the environment at the bottom of a canyon. The running water that creates the canyon gives rise to an explosion of vegetation in comparison to the rest of the desert. The canyon walls provide the shade that keeps the sun from baking the plants and stealing the water that they retrieved from the stream. This makes a canyon one of the most pleasant places to hike in the desert. Following the meandering stream gives your walk just the right type of aimlessness. The curve of the canyon wall always keeps you motivated to keep going in order to find out what is behind the bulging wall in the distance.

Scale is not easily conveyed. One of the best things about seeing Arches for the first time is the realization of the size of its features. You’ll lie under an arch and realize you could fit a house inside, or even a small building. You even really get an idea of how big they are just by looking at them in person, you have to hear them. The echo of your shoe scuffing against loose sand and pebbles that you kick down while climbing give you the subconscious realization of these massive forms. To record all of these impressions in a picture and then transmit those feelings to a person who has never visited the place is impossible. The challenges in landscape photography are similar to those in architectural photography. The spot must be found where the features being photographed are arranged in such a way through the viewfinder that their organization will convey to the viewer of the photograph an understanding of the space. Being at the actual site, binocular vision and the way that the shapes change as we move around help us understand a space. When that space is compressed into a two dimensional image, we need clear hints of where the edges of the foreground give way to the background. Adjusting a highlight or darkening a shadow can guide the viewer’s eye to important features, making parts of the picture stand out and giving it depth. It also always helps to throw in a recognizable object to give a sense of scale. By the way, can you spot the person sitting with their body silhouetted against the sky?