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Understanding the pace of a place


From:

Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

with Ben Long

Video: Understanding the pace of a place

It's morning of the last day and I've just been packing up to leave. In packing up I'm really feeling how much dust and grit there is on all my gear. There's no way around that out here. Even if you are not camping, particularly when it's windy like this, there's just so much stuff flying around shooting in sand dunes, everything is going to get sandy. It's very easy to get uptight about that and to a degree there's a good reason to get uptight about it. I'm noticing that the zoom ring on one of my lenses is grinding. I actually just had another lens that I didn't bring with me because it was broken and I had to send it in to Canada and they sent back saying well your zoom ring is grinding and we're going to have to clean that and the whole thing is going to cost $400.
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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

Understanding the pace of a place

It's morning of the last day and I've just been packing up to leave. In packing up I'm really feeling how much dust and grit there is on all my gear. There's no way around that out here. Even if you are not camping, particularly when it's windy like this, there's just so much stuff flying around shooting in sand dunes, everything is going to get sandy. It's very easy to get uptight about that and to a degree there's a good reason to get uptight about it. I'm noticing that the zoom ring on one of my lenses is grinding. I actually just had another lens that I didn't bring with me because it was broken and I had to send it in to Canada and they sent back saying well your zoom ring is grinding and we're going to have to clean that and the whole thing is going to cost $400.

So sand and, and grit can be a problem. you can try to minimize it by making sure that you keep your gear in a nice tight bag anytime you're not using it. You can think about trying to not do la-, lens changes in the middle of a dune field. That kind of thing. Honestly, for the most part I always feel like I want the shots I want. I'm, I'm not going to worry about the gear. I can always try to clean it and get it fixed later. And you don't have to have your gear cleaned by your camera manufacturer, there are other places that can do it for less money.

But just be aware of that, this is a pretty brutal environment on gear because of the dust and sand that's flying around. I might do a little more shooting on the way out. As it is, as I, as I sit here looking across the dry lake bed where we were shooting, I'm a little frustrated to be leaving right now, partly because it's such a nice place to be but also because I can feel a change has happened over the last coupla days. When you come into a wilderness area It takes awhile to slow down into the pace of the place that you're in.

And after a few days of getting settled and just slowing down to the speed of the desert, you start seeing things that you don't see when you first get to the location. Now some of this, of course, as with any type of shooting, you get into a rhythm. And once you're in that groove, it's nice to stay in it. But this is something extra. This is something about getting used to the rhythms of the day here. Getting used to the wind at sunset. Getting used to the way the light moves. And getting that modern world pace and sensibility and expectation out of my head.

And going, yeah, this is where I am. Oh, hey, look the birds are coming in again or the wind is moving this way or so on and so forth. Your eyes open up in a very different way. Don't think that you can come to a place as spectacular as this and shoot it in an afternoon. That may seem obvious but, even in three or four days you're kind of just getting started. And you can say well I can just come back. Well but when you just come back, which is a good idea you'll still going to need that slow down time again. If you can manage it. You want to get into a landscape and you want to sit with it for quite a while.

You want to give yourself time to slow down and tune in to the pace of your surroundings so that your eyes can open up to this new level. I feel like mine are just starting to do that and we have to leave. That's okay. You work with what you can. I feel like we got some good stuff. I'm interested to take a look at it.

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