A Return to the Dunes and a Bonus
The dunes in Death Valley produce some of the most iconic images in the park. Undulations in the knife ridges, the way the light plays off on either side, the depth of layers all contribute to the magic of this location.
One has to get there early or stay late to catch all this. Once the sun is above a certain level above the horizon, it all flattens out. Sure, it is still impressive, but not in the same way as the ends-of-the-day hours.
Because the dunes are so close to our hotel, we got to “sleep in” and met in our cars at 6:00.
Our participants already knew what the dunes could produce,not only from their own photographs but from those of their confrères.
They scattered, and when Arnie and I could find them, we checked in. At this point, however, they should be able to remember most of what we taught them.
We had agreed to meet for the group shot at a certain time, and as i walked back with one of our participants, I kept looking back. I had an image in mind and kept looking for it.
“Go on if you want. I need to make this photograph.”
But he stayed, This was not his first workshop with us, and we have become friends.
He watched as I quickly set up, made a few adjustments, then clicked the shutter … once, and we continued back to the group.
Doing the group shots always produces good belly laughs. There is the happy-smiling-faces one, and then the seeking-your-own-vision one.
Back for breakfast, post-processing, and the final critique.
WOW! There were some fabulous images, and everyone had made great strides forward during our intensive time together.
Goodbyes are always hard. Half our group had to head home, so there were hugs and promises of keeping in touch. That’s one of the things that Arnie and I love about our groups. So many friendships are made in our workshops that last far beyond the end of the workshop.
People keep in contact and plan on their next workshop together. Many meet and go out photographing together between times. Others even do road trips together. It’s great!
We invited those who were staying to joins us as we went out photographing for ourselves. During the workshop, we are lucky to get off one or two shots, at least enough for the blog and to have new images on the website, but the workshop is for our participants, as it should be. Now it was our turn, but loving photography and teaching as we do, we are always helping our students.
We returned to one of the locations we visited on our scout-and-shoot day. Death Valley is not known for its quantity of water, but the rains a week or so ago filled shallow rivers that are usually dry or nearly so.
It is not one of our regular locations, as the footing is difficult, particularly returning to the cars in the dark with flashlights. But it is worth a visit. The light was magnificent, and we all got some wonderful shots. I saw the potential for these patterns from far away and hustled over there down the valley floor.
Arnie and I both got images that we really like. We each picked different places for the stars shot. Mine featured a fork in the narrow stream so we could get the crescent moon and stars.
I soon realized, however, that we would not get the Milky Way, too. The group apparently had their hearts set on that thick band of stars, so I showed them another location, and we set up again. Either would have been great. Not only did I get the Milky Way but a couple of shooting stars, as well. Everyone was happy.
It was getting quite chilly and time to head back to the hotel.
“Should we bring our computers back to the saloon?” we were asked.
“The workshops is over, but of course,” we responded.
One decided she was taking the night off, but she and her husband, one of our “spousal units,” sat around the table as we laughed, talked photography, and shared the latest photographs.
I went through my camera bag, as people often find that interesting. Arnie talked about the technical aspects of filters, sensors, and other camera stuff. He takes the lead on the camera computers; I take the lead on the laptop ones.
More goodbyes, and people lingered, not wanting to say that final farewell.
“Which one are you coming to next?”
“Could I tempt you with …?”
“We did it again,” Arnie and I said to each other once everyone had left. It has been a tradition since the first workshop we did together. It means that the group had a great time and learned a lot. They made images that made us envious in a good way. We want them to succeed.
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