I like to browse through my photo archives once in a while. It's a great way to remember some of the adventures I've taken, rediscover images that I've forgotten about, and once in a while find a hidden gem. I was searching for another image a few days ago and stumbled across the folder of photos I took on my very first visit to Death Valley. I didn't have my Jeep then and did the tourist thing, visiting places that were easily accessible from the road and rushing around to see as much as I could in one visit. The park rangers told me to make sure to visit the sand dunes at sunset. Death Valley is HUGE and distances are deceiving. We got there later than I wanted, just as the sun was setting. I was appalled to see how many photographers were scattered throughout the dunes and it was too late for me to hike out any distance to find a place to myself.
But I was in love with the way the light from the sun's low angle played with the shapes of the dunes. It was like a grand symphony of light and shadow and I did my best to capture a few shots before the light faded away.
I wasn't pleased with the images when I got back home. I didn't want people in my shots and the muted color tones weren't what I had envisioned. It was 2005 and I had just started the transition to shooting digital. I had much to learn about post-processing. The debate was raging over how much post was "ethical" and having shot film for many years I decided I would take the side of the purists...nothing beyond setting a black and a white point, maybe a little curves adjustment for some "pop" and perhaps some dodging and burning. That didn't cut it on these photos and they were filed away and forgotten.
When I saw them again the other day I finally saw what I had originally envisioned when I took them. I have to laugh that it took me eight years to realize that these were always meant to be in black and white, but I'm glad that I can finally show what captured my soul that day. This is one of the early experiences that made me fall in love with the desert.
Purchase a print of "Light and Shadow"
Purchase a panoramic print of "Photographers at Mesquite Dunes"