Tag Archives: badlands

Death Valley is the Most Amazing Place!

I think Death Valley is SO amazing!

I have photographed in every state in the lower 48 and while our country has the most amazing diversity of landscapes, for me Death Valley is the most unique!

Just my humble opinion!

I have been there more times than I can count and there is always something new. On my last trip, I was driving a road when I spotted the pitch black, almost coal colored geology in the far distance. So I hiked down there and photographed some variety of scenes, all under an overcast sky.

ca_death_valley_artist_area_MG_5864bWhen the sun was setting (before the color show) I started back when I stumbled on this scene of turquoise colored sediment. I have no idea what it was (I am not a geologist) but I knew it would make for a great foreground.

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Fall in Badlands National Park

Several years ago I was teaching at the Black Hills Photo Shootout in South Dakota and when the event wrapped up I headed off to Badlands NP.

I had a half day to shoot there before returning to Rapid City for an early morning flight and I arrived in the early afternoon.

I drove the loop road heading west and stopped at each point to see what could be captured. It was unfortunately a perfectly clear day and I adapted the the harsh sunlight and did pretty well.

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Nature’s Amazing Palette

It is amazing what Mother Nature provides for our cameras. I looked at this scene and wondered what was happening on Earth to make all these colorful layers? The multitude of colors, i presume, means some specific mineral was ‘spewing’ all over for a while before another mineral came along. It’s fascinating! Any geologists out there?

When you think of creating great compositions, scenes like this dont make it hard. There is not only lines and diagonals adding to the composition, but the horizontal layers as well. There is contrast as well but it’s not lighting. Instead, I call it color contrast: a full range of colors both dark and light bring contrast to the scene. If it was converted to B&W it would have tonal contrast.

This is southern Utah due north of Page, AZ. Shot with a Canon 5D and 80-200mm lens

The eroded hills near Pareah, Utah   Join my mail list on the right side. Get my eBook above. Checkout my online photography course: How to Be a Professional Outdoor & Nature Photographer.

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Selective Blending B&W and Color

I was teaching at the Black Hills Photo Shootout a few years ago and had half a day to kill so I went on a marathon shooting visit to Badlands NP. I have been there many times and like many places you visit over the years, returning can be like you have never been there before with fresh eyes and new perspectives.

The light was not that great when I got there but I shot anyway and it was fall, so there was a tiny bit of color. I like the idea of B&W with some color remaining because it really emphasizes the color when you do this and directs the eye where you want it to go.

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Here’s the Photoshop screen showing the B&W and a mask to brush back the color area which keeps the bush in its original color. I also added contrast with a Curves adjustment and also used High Pass Filter. 

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Photographing Wahweap Towers

This is one of the most amazing places I have ever shot! It’s part of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Utah.

The soft light is very flat lighting: no whites and no blacks, just light grays and dark grays, so you have to create the black and white. But do you need them?

Honestly, I struggled to find my ‘look.’ The original file has a blue cast from the blue sky above, so I worked that a bit: added blue/took away blue, saturated, added contrast, then took it all away. Today, I decided to do B&W and high contrast. Tomorrow, who knows. 

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