Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photographers at Artists Palette

Death Valley

My annual trip to Death Valley will begin in a few days. Looking over last year's photographs, I realize I never put any of them online. (And if you're on this year's trip with me, avert your face, because I'll probably show them sometime during our trip.) Here are some of my favorites. As usual, click on any image for a larger-sized view.

Salt Flats Near Badwater


In my small collection of pictorial guidebooks, I have a copy of "America's Wonderlands, A Pictorial And Descriptive History of Our Country's Scenic Wonders, as Delineated by Pen and Camera." (Pardon me while I pause for breath.)

Ghosts in a Ghost Town

J. W. Buell, the author, wrote about Death Valley. It's doubtful he made a visit, as he includes no photographs. His words, though, as promised, are descriptive: "...looking across it from the margin, the observer sees a shimmer in the air, as if furnace were in active blast beneath." No wonder he decided to stay clear.

He also wrote, "It is the field of wonderful illusion from which spring into the quivering air the most astounding and alluring mirages: rippling brooks, waver palms, floral meadow, ships under sail, banks of thyme, and travelers moving in procession across a landscape more beautiful than an oriental vision."

Desert Gold - Wildflower Near Stovepipe Wells

Though there are mirages in Death Valley, they are typically far more prosaic than the ones Buell invented in order to captivate his readers.

Zombies on Parade

Non-Leaf Phacelia

Death Valley is probably as much as state of mind as it is a real place in the objective world. The name conjures up, as it did for J. W. Buell well over a century ago, magical if not disconcerting implications. The very name is enough to stir up at least vague intimations of human suffering and mortality, the pre-politcal Ronald Reagan (for those who've been around long enough to remember the late 1960s), and sand dunes marching off into the distance.

Pup Fish - Salt Creek

Perhaps, if Buell had spent some time in Death Valley, he would have discovered a greater and more interesting collection of natural – if not deadly – wonders than those he felt compelled to invent.

Dawn Over the Sand Dunes

One difference this year for me on the trip: I'll try to use my little iPhone, which includes a high-quality lens, and some of the software in the camera that allows for a creative, film-like approach. If successful, I'll post the results here.

Photo notes: Images made with a Nikon DSLR; raven photographed with a 70-300mm lens, pupfish with a 200mm macro lens, flowers with a 105 macro lens, the rest with an 18-200mm lens. Click on any image for a larger-sized look.

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