Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Working the light in the dry lake bed

From: Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

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.

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip
Travel Photography: Desert Road Trip

22 video lessons · 7506 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
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.

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?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

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 preferencesfrom 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.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

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.