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It’s Not Just About the Big Scene and Big Light

Ivanpah RelicsIn the U.S. southwest, there are many random things in the desert and they make fascinating subjects for photography. A photographic scene can be easily composed by using a little improvisation and creativity.

This location on the Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed outside of the Mojave National Preserve is one such area, that doesn't look like much from a distance, especially in the harsh afternoon light. By thinking about the potential of this area, a beautiful scene that tells a story can be easily composed.

I don't know much about this abandoned area on the Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed but from the relics that lie on the site, it looks as though this was a former cattle ranch.

By using angles and the right light, I was able to convey the sense of desolation and abandonment. In the far distance is a road that carries travellers from Southern California to Lake Mojave and Lake Mead. I carefully thought about the angle that I would photograph this scene at. In the end, I was able to find an angle that would leave modern man-made objects out of the frame. I also wanted the light to symbolize decline and ruin. By waiting for the last bit of sunlight to fall on the mountains in the background, I was able to convey that sense. By combining those elements together, I felt I was able to tell a story about the area's ranching past.

Just because there is a series of random posts in the desert, it doesn't mean there isn't some history or story to tell. Often in the Mojave Desert, abandoned sites have a ranching or mining past. This can make interesting subjects as one tries to tell a story through pictures. Sometimes, I think, us landscape photographers get too caught up in trying to capture the big scene with big light and overlook other things around us. We should look on our surroundings and tell a story, and not just try to grab the cliche' image that knocks everyone's socks off.


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