Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

Exploring the vistas for a more dramatic shot


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Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

with Ben Long

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Video: Exploring the vistas for a more dramatic shot

One of the things you can do with the middle part of the day, when there's no light is nap and that's what I've been doing and it was a really good idea. It makes the getting up for sunrise easier to tolerate. Also, it got really really windy, that wind that you saw out on the lake got worse. so much worse that it's actually difficult to be outside shooting. That's something you need to think about if you're going to come to Death Valley. It can be prohibitively windy here. Between the sand blowing around that you don't want to get in your camera and just the fact that it's hard to stand upright.
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Watch the Online Video Course Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip
1h 55m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013

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Every type of location presents its own photographic challenges. For the stark wilderness of Death Valley National Park, these can include harsh desert light, stark landscapes, and a vastness that can be daunting to capture in a single frame. In this course, travel along with author, teacher, and photographer Ben Long to Death Valley to learn about the challenges and techniques behind capturing the exotic beauty and surprising details of the desert.

Topics include:
  • Looking at the light
  • Composing a shot to show rock texture
  • Taking a shot with haze and working it in post
  • Shooting sand dunes in changing light
  • Exploring the vistas for a more dramatic shot
  • Understanding the pace of a place
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

Exploring the vistas for a more dramatic shot

One of the things you can do with the middle part of the day, when there's no light is nap and that's what I've been doing and it was a really good idea. It makes the getting up for sunrise easier to tolerate. Also, it got really really windy, that wind that you saw out on the lake got worse. so much worse that it's actually difficult to be outside shooting. That's something you need to think about if you're going to come to Death Valley. It can be prohibitively windy here. Between the sand blowing around that you don't want to get in your camera and just the fact that it's hard to stand upright.

and just the general discomfort in being in that kind of wind. It's loud and it just kind of pounds on you. That can go on for days here. So, if you're only going to come here for 3 or 4 days, especially in the spring, you need to be prepared for the fact that you might get blown out. It might be too windy to really shoot here. So you might have to think about a backup plan. Now that's not just Death Valley Death Valley opens up into the southern part of the Mojave. So if you were thinking, well, if Death Valley is too windy I'll just go down to, say, the Mojave preserve that's down there.

Nah, it's all going to be windy. So you might want to think about going into the Sierras, or going to Mount Whitney, or something like that. Just know that it can be a very difficult thing to deal with here. And if you're only coming for a short time, it is possible that it could be windy the whole time. Or, it can be like what we've mostly had, which is beautiful weather. It has calmed down, now. We got real lucky. So, I'm trying to figure out what to do with the afternoon light. And I've been thinking that, while I have taken a few, kind of broader, vista shots, mostly I've been focusing on small, nearby things. I have used the background some, but I haven't done the big, grand view, that you sometimes really think of as landscape photography. So I think I'd like to go do some of that, and talk through some of what I'm thinking about when I'm shooting that kind of thing. Not far from here, just back up the road, there are a couple of really big vista points that let us see the entire valley.

So I'm thinking we're going to go up there and do some shooting. Now, just because it has calmed down down here, I don't know what it's going to be like up at 4,000, 5,000 feet where we're going to be going. So I've put on another layer. It's a very wrinkly layer. But that's another great thing about being in the desert. No one's going to see me, so I don't care. So I'm preparing for a little bit colder weather, thinking that probably we'll just stay there until the sun goes down and see what we can shoot. It's not far, I'm going to take my, I'm not going to take my Fuji this time, I'm going to take my SLR rig and see what I can find.

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