More Black and White photos from this week in the desert under a nearly full moon. It's crazy and fun to explore the desert at night in Black and White. I am careful not to step on snakes, one close encounter is enough! This is for my personal project on Saguaro National Park I started last year and plan to finish this summer.
I was excited when the Sonoran Institute recently sent me to photograph their Colorado River Delta restoration project in Baja California, Mexico. The Sonoran Institute is a U.S. non-profit that works to
On the last day of the shoot I made this photo from Cape Solitude. It shows the location where developers plan to build a mile and a half long tram from the rim into the Grand Canyon. Construction of the tram can start as early as this year.
I liked Robert's and the Smithsonian's choice of a title for this story. It reminds me of the ad that the Sierra Club ran in the New York Times and the Washington Post in June of 1966. The NYTimes Sierra Club ad was a call to action when two dams were being proposed on the Colorado River up stream from the confluence. I believe the ad was the brainchild of David Brower who was president of the Sierra Club at that time.
The Canyon is under threat again, I wonder if the public will rally again to protect the Canyon?
It's 4:41 am and two bike riders are moving through a cactus maze in the Sonoran Desert.
Dawn is starting to color the sky and I have my camera 20 feet up on a portable camera stand. There's no wind, but I have the stand stabilized by several ropes. The setup is stable enough for a sharp 25 second exposure as the mountain bikers ride through the scene. I do a few takes then move to the next location, the shoot is wrapped by 6:15 and we are off to Hotel Congress for breakfast at the Cup.
This week I returned to Saguaro National Park to rephotographed one of the cooler looking saguaro I had photographed last month. Here's a select from this recent shoot. I nearly always publish color images, but after looking at the color image on my home computer I thought the white flower and the cool lines of the saguaro ribs might have more punch if I converted it to Black and White in Photoshop.
But I am in a quandary here because I didn't originally shoot this image in Black and White and when I shot the image I was intent on a shooting a color image. So the question I ask myself is shouldn't this image remain in the original color?
I've often written and promoted the idea that in wildlife, landscape and news photography the photos should be kept as true to the original moment as possible. This means no excessive photoshop or editing to remove items other than dust from the photo. This concept is really just for images whose intention is to depict a real scene. Of course for creative sake an image can be manipulated to the extreme if the intention is to create an art work. I guess that's the threshold I crossed when converting this color image to Black and White. What do you think, did the Black and White alteration I made change the original intent of this photo? My answer is probably not by much, but it is a very different photo from the original.
That got me to thinking that most news photographers publishing black and white images are usually shooting in color with digital cameras then converting the image to Black and White for publication. This is the case with many landscape and wildlife photographers as well. The reason many still produce images in Black and White is not only a style choice, but the fact that a photo in Black and White will often depict a subject with more power and emotion than a color image. Is this kind of radical alteration to a color image true to the moment? It is if the intent when the photo was shot was to make a B&W image. The difference between what I did in altering my saguaro photo and what the B&W publishing photojournalist and wildlife photographer is doing, is their original intention is seeing the final photo as Black and White.
The saguaro cactus is the iconic cactus of the Sonoran Desert. Locals are saying that with the mild warm winter in the American Southwest the saguaro is blooming early. Yesterday I saw thousands of saguaro flowering in Saguaro National Park outside Tucson, Arizona.
These cactus can grow over 40 feet tall and live more than 200 years. Most visitors view the cactus from ground level. I used a special wireless camera rig that allowed me to look down on the saguaro from above. I've discovered there's always a unique perpective with aerials.
Smoke from a control burn near Tusayan on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park contributed to some soft light for this sunrise photo of Isis Temple. This pic was taken last week from nearby Shiva Temple below the North Rim. A long walk in, but well worth the effort.
There's a lot of chance that plays into getting interesting photos in remote locations especially when you let the unfolding events control your shots. What I've discovered is on some photo outings nothing happens; the skies are clear, the company is dull and the location sucks no matter how stunning the place might be. Then on other trips great events unfold, great light happens and making nice photos is as easy as pointing the camera in the right direction and letting the shutter fly.
This point was made clear to me again on a recent multi-day hike off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I was joined on the trip with two botanist, Glenn Rink and Steve Till, as well as another avid canyon explorer Bob Dye.
I was in the Canyon on a scouting trip for a future story. The others had no set determined goals so the hike quickly unfolded as a casual romp in the Park to explore some new country and have some fun. And of course I brought a camera should anything interesting happen.
I liked this shot of Steve exploring the art of flying. If I claimed that this sort of activity is a hot new sport craze, it would have the Park managers of GCNP sleepless with worry, but it's only Steve enjoying some flight-time.
Okay I did have some photographic goals during the trip. I did want to make a nice portrait of Bob Dye. Bob is incredibly knowledgeable about the canyon and displays an uncanny ability to find ancient building sites and artifacts.
Glenn Rink is the ultimate energized hiker. As we walked out of the Canyon across the Powell Plateau in a blowing fog and wet snow, I managed to get a photo of Glenn in his element. He later admitted that when I took this photo he was freezing cold and was nearly running to stay warm.
So like many people I enjoyed three days of photo serendipity in the Grand Canyon and I am already planning on my next trip. This last photo is what Glenn says is the ultimate scout of Deubendorf Rapids. What I saw was the beautiful curve of the Colorado River, the steep ridges dropping off the Great Thumb and more than a few reasons to return.