Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

Working the light in the dry lake bed


From:

Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

with Ben Long

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Working the light in the dry lake bed

It's a, it's a strange combination here, in Panamint Valley, and in Death Valley. There's expanse. There is scale. I've got just this big, empty, flat thing around me, and it feels really good for some reason. And it's strange, because I grew up in Oklahoma. I'm used to flat ground, and sky that goes on forever. And yet something about this, I just feel really comfortable. I think it's partly that I've got all this space, but it's bounded. I have these wonderful mountains around me, I'm in this kind of cozy little, gigantic howling wilderness. There's a great scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Lawrence comes out of the desert and some reporter asks him, why do you like the desert so much Lawrence. And you know it's Peter O'Toole, and he's got those piercing blue eyes and, and he looks right at the guy and he says, it's clean.
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip
1h 55m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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

Working the light in the dry lake bed

It's a, it's a strange combination here, in Panamint Valley, and in Death Valley. There's expanse. There is scale. I've got just this big, empty, flat thing around me, and it feels really good for some reason. And it's strange, because I grew up in Oklahoma. I'm used to flat ground, and sky that goes on forever. And yet something about this, I just feel really comfortable. I think it's partly that I've got all this space, but it's bounded. I have these wonderful mountains around me, I'm in this kind of cozy little, gigantic howling wilderness. There's a great scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Lawrence comes out of the desert and some reporter asks him, why do you like the desert so much Lawrence. And you know it's Peter O'Toole, and he's got those piercing blue eyes and, and he looks right at the guy and he says, it's clean.

And I know what he means, it's, everything's bleached out out here, and the dryness, it's really hot but you never actually feel like you're sweating, because your sweat just evaporates before you even know you have it. There's just this clean, stark, simple thing out here. All right. So if that's what I'm really feeling out here, how can I get that? How do you take a picture of that? And I, I need to stick with some of my formal compositional stuff here. I need a foreground and a background, the viewer's eye has to know what to do.

So I've been doing a lot of, as you've seen I've been doing a lot of this kind of thing, which is a nice enough formal composition. But what I'm getting at here is the scale and this vastness I, a wide-angle lens is, is your impulse in an environment like this. You might go wow look at all that stuff, here I better go as wide as possible and take a picture of it. And I get this and, my eye doesn't really know what to do there. So I want to combine these things. There's a sense of scale here that I want, which is leading me to think. I need to capture wider, but, I've still gotta keep my formal compositional stuff going.

I've still got to make sure that the viewer's eye knows what to do. And one of the nice things about some of the, these big plains and shapes and textures out here is they do give kind of compositional containers to work with. I'm going to go really exaggerated here. I've got my 16 to 35 on, and I'm going to get down here and go really, really ultra wide, but still maintaining some sense of foreground background relationship. So something like this.

Now, this is not actually what the scene looks like to my eye. This photo is creating a kind of gross exaggeration of what I am actually seeing. What I'm actually seeing is not that much distance from me to the island. This image though is showing a tremendous stretching It's showing a tremendous expansion of space and a much bigger sky than my eye sees. But I think this is a case where maybe that approach can kind of work, and I'm going to shoot this some more and see what I come up with.

There's an idea that you know when you're writing a play or a book or something, you have to take every day life and blow it up larger. You have to blow it up into drama. Painters get to do that inherently because they get add only the lines they want, they can decide where those lines go. As photographers it's very difficult because we're, we're dealing with a very Xerox copy of the world. So when I can exaggerate, when I can try to get the reality blown up a little bit into a more dramatic space. Maybe that's a way of approaching the possibility of representing the emotional state that I'm having here. So, I feel like good photos come from two places.

They come from that formal composition work, and they come from trying to identify what it is for you that strikes you about a scene. And then taking that formal compositional stuff and your technical understanding, and trying to understand how to use that vocabulary to express that thing that you've identified that you're feeling. This is a, a good way to try to explore it by thinking about taking the literal thing that's there and trying to make it more dramatic. As I do that I will hopefully come up with some good pictures and hopefully I'll also come up with a better understanding of what it is that I'm feeling while I'm out here.

Right now, I'm about to forget a lens, so I'm going to go back and get it.

There are currently no FAQs about Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip.

 
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.