The day trip to Death Valley landed me at Badwater Basin in the early afternoon. The winter sun was low and a slight haze removed the hardness of the sun. Recent storms flooded the typically dry salt flats which resulted in great reflections and an interesting foreground. The vastness of the sky lead me to think of painter Grahame Sydney’s work and it caused me to pause and think of his wider landscape compositions. My instinct was to point the camera down and shoot the interesting salt crystals and reflections. Looking through the viewfinder I could tell it wasn’t a good frame but I took it anyway. The image doesn’t balance and the salt crystals end up distracting your eyes from the landscape.
A feature of Sydney’s landscapes I enjoy is when he removes or greatly reduces the foreground element. This breaks a couple of landscape photography “rules” – to have a feature in the foreground, midground, and background, which gives depth to the image, and the rule of thirds which aims to assign weight and balance those features. He has his reasons, but as a viewer of his work I get curious about what he chose to omit.
I had a second pocket camera with me loaded with black and white film. I thought if shot in black and white whether the viewer could discern these salt crystals in a desert from ice crystals in an alpine area. I wanted that wonder and need to interpret the image in colour, so I composed the shot leaving just enough of the salt crystals to make one’s first impression to first think what they are, but not too much that they become the subject within the image. These crystals also added depth to the image and balanced out the mountains. The white band above the water, as I can make out, is the margarita glass salt around the basin.
Shot on the Fuji GS690 camera with Kodak Porta 400 film.
A different view of the same landscape, on a hill.
A couple of shots from Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona.