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Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

with Ben Long

Video: Intro to desert landscape photography

Travel to the desert wilderness of Death Valley National Park with author, teacher, and landscape photographer Ben Long to learn the unique considerations involved in shooting a desert environment.
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Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip
Video Duration: 0s 1h 55m Intermediate


View Course Description

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

Intro to desert landscape photography

(MUSIC). There are people that say that the desert is empty, that it's barren, that it's a wasteland, that there's nothing there. And honestly, I just don't understand that perspective at all. There is light in the desert that doesn't exist anywhere else, the colors of light, a purity of light because of the dry air, and contrast in textures that you just don't see other places. And for a photographer, that's something that you can explore endlessly. And in this course, you're going to come along with me as I attempt to do that. We're takin a road trip into the desert, a three day road trip, where we're just going to do nothing but shoot.

Now when a lot of people hear the word desert, they think big, pillowing clouds of dust blowing off of a sea of dunes that goes all the way to the horizon, and certainly, that is one kind of desert. But desert simply means an area of extremely low rainfall. There's just not a lot of water in the desert, and there are a lot of different places that fit that description. We're going to the low desert. The very low desert. We're going to the lowest place in North America. Death Valley. Along the way you're going to see me trying to carve compositions out of this incredibly vast landscape.

You're going to see me dealing with simple logistical issues. How do I make the best use of light that comes at the beginning and end of the day, over an area that spans hundreds of miles? How do I get by in an environment that's incredibly harsh? What kind of gear do I use? We're going to tackle all of these issues as we prowl back and forth across Death Valley, and a little bit into the surrounding area. So I hope that this course will help you see the photographic potential of the great outdoors. As well as give you an interest in coming to a place that a lot of people describe as empty. But which I see as overflowing.


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