I am “The World’s Worst Landscape Photographer™”. It’s just not really what I do.
It’s not that I don’t like landscape photography, I really do. I appreciate the colors, the exotic places, the technical skill it takes to capture those images.
First of all, I just don’t have the drive to get up that early. All those glorious sunrise shots, I could look at them all day. As for actually getting the motivation to crawl out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to get to the destination, get the gear ready, be patient enough to wait for that perfect moment to click that shutter? Way too zen for me.
And, another big thing is that I just don’t know what to look for. Or where to look. I grew up in the suburbs. I’ve been around urban and suburban areas all my life. I understand these places. I have a feeling for them. I KNOW where to look. But, then I go to places like Valley Of Fire, a truly gorgeous park about 45 min drive north of Las Vegas, and I just wander around like a lost husband searching the mall for a 25th wedding anniversary gift.
It’s not pretty. And, usually, what I produce isn’t pretty as well. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and grab a sort-of-interesting shot of a cactus. Or, I’ll just cop out and shoot blue sky, just straight blue sky, and desperately try to pass it off as “art”. It’s sad, really.
So, I went to Death Valley today. First time I’ve ever been, and I think I’ve fallen in love with it. I can certainly see why people are enchanted by that place. I’ve always noticed that spiritual people hardly ever go into a forest to gain enlightenment. They almost always go to the desert. There is a reason for this.
So, I go to Death Valley. All I bring for my Pentax K-x is my new 35mm lens. This is a mistake. First of all, only bringing one lens anywhere like this is a big mistake. Second, 35 mm is a fine lens for street photography (which is what I mainly bought it for), an OK lens for portraits, and an absolute poor choice when trying to capture the majestic proportions of a place as wide and open as Death Valley. Of course, I only realize this after we have stopped and I’ve tried to capture said majestic proportions. And failed. Again.
After cursing the day I was born (this usually happens when I’m out taking pictures, I get over it fairly quickly) I decide to make the best of a bad situation and try to shoot with the plan of stitching together some panoramas. And, guess what? That worked.
The picture at the top of the page is of Badwater, this directly above is of Artist’s Pallet.
And, you know what? They aren’t too horrible. In fact, they have inspired me to start planning more panorama shots for future. I’m actually kind of excited about it.
What did I learn today? Keep shooting. Even if you don’t have what you think you need, keep shooting. As Cmdr. Peter Taggart always said, “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!” Also, shoot with a plan. If your first plan doesn’t pan out, figure out your next plan. Again, Never give up, Never surrender!
I also learned that, if you are going to take pictures in a quaint local market in an obscure desert town, always get the managers permission first. The cashiers permission doesn’t count, apparently. But, that’s another story for another time.