One of the great things about roaming the American West, is that there are so many wonderful rock forms just sitting next to the road, waiting for you and your camera. I am talking about rocks with no names. Time and logistical considerations created by the fact that you are traveling, seem like a liability. They can become an asset, when you are working the sides of the road. You are probably already headed somewhere specific. You do not have the time to stop and decide what the scene will look like in the perfect light and then wait. You will not be back to this location on this trip. You cannot spend an hour with each and every rock looking for that composition that nobody would ever think of. A lot of quick instincts will come into play.
The four images below were all made along a New Mexico back road. The were all made within one five-minute time frame. Some of the compositions are beyond simple. They were the very first alternative comp I could “see”, after my first look. I took a tiny bit more time with the vertical and the “pano” crop images.
Let there be light. When you cannot wait for the light to change you do the best you can. The final image below was so contrasty in its relationship between the sunny and shady areas, that I decided to create an HDR image in Photomatix Pro. I made the original image before HDR photography existed, so I did not have a series of bracketed exposures to work with. I simply made an over exposed copy of my original file and sandwiched them together in Photomatix. I have included the original image without HDR. I often sing the praises of using shadows to create drama and mystery in a picture. I made the photo the way you see it because I felt that some drama and mystery would make this a powerful picture. Instead I found myself only being bothered by the contrast. Every set of circumstances is different. This comparison does show you the value of bringing contrast levels to an acceptable level. HDR can be about more than just pumped up and surreal colors.
There is a definite place for dreamy mood provoking images of any subject. There is also a place for first instinct images that accept the light you are given. This is especially true when working with the nature provided “rock art” of the desert southwest. There is nothing like a trip down Rocky Road.
“I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter”. Blaise Pascal