November Big Bend Gallery Complete

It is done. My gallery of photos from Big Bend National Park is ready for viewing:



click to enter gallery

I spent nearly 10 full days in the park and surrounding areas. During that time, I attended a TME (The Mindful Eye) six day photography workshop lead by Craig Tanner and Marti Jeffers.

The shooting opportunities were slightly different during this trip. Usually, my visits to the park are on my own terms, and I focus on specific areas, mostly accessible by hiking. The workshop itinerary focused mostly on the easy-to-reach, iconic locations in the park.

In project terms, this last trip was definitely a sub-project, much like my badlands project was this past March. I had a lot of opportunity and time to shoot well-known locations, something that I had not really done before.

My goal during this last trip was to shoot the easy spots and create a sense of place. The resulting collection of photos will hopefully add some balance to my larger, on-going project.

3 thoughts on “November Big Bend Gallery Complete

  1. Fabulous gallery, your work needs to be on display in print, somewhere. I hope the “larger project” is a BB book. What is so interesting about this collection of work is the beautiful night images. You see a lot of well covered topics that don’t have this extra dimension. I had bought awhile back “National Audubon guide to Photographing America’s National Parks” you would think they would have the best of the best images, not so. Your BB images blow the ones in the book away. Anyway, Happy Holidays and hope you and your family have a great New Year…

  2. Campsite Under Stars
    Beautiful sky, I love the shift in color from the horizon going up, and at the horizon the glow actually complements the color of the tent. The mountains make a nice silhouette, and there’s rythm between the shape of the tent and the mountains.

    Fall Colors
    What a great surprise, this isn’t what most people would expect in a Big Bend gallery, but it shows what a diverse ecosystem the park contains. Shots like this are deceptively difficult, the trick is not having them look like a jumbled mess with no depth or strong subject. But I can see a path going into this image, over the foreground rocks and between the trees on either side in the midground. I’m guessing you used a polarizer, but I like that there are still some reflections on the rocks to add some tonal variety in the foreground.

    Santa Elena Canyon
    The classic Santa Elena shot, and well executed. You’ve got all the needed elements for a great shot, and use them well: great light, nice sky, striking canyon. I like the way the river and the canyon shadow line up, and also the blue tones in river highlights from the reflected sky. Blue and gold is a great color combination.

    Rio Grande Sunrise
    Another pleasant surprise, this looks like it could have been taken along a rocky coast at low tide, rather than along a river bank in the desert. Beautiful colors, and I like the decision to expose so that the rocks/cliffs are black and provide a stark contrast to the lighter tones of the sky and its reflection in the water. Some might have been tempted to use HDR and bring out detail in the rocks, but that would have been a mistake IMHO.

    Terlingua Creek
    Nice tones, great sky, I wish there was more water and less mud in the foreground. I see a bit of a dark/light halo along the cliff horizon. (Maybe it didn’t show in the full-res? I’ve sometimes had cases where this only showed in the web JPEG’s…)

    The View Inside Looking Out
    I really like this. The dark shadows and brighter reflections give this image a bold, graphic design. (I should learn from this, I always seem to get stuck thinking I need more open shadows). The stripes created by the layered tones of the near bank make great leading lines into the image, and add interest to the foreground.

    Terlingua Creek
    I like the the inverted ‘V’ shape, but the right bottom portion of the frame seems a little empty. I’m wondering if there was an even better vertical shot here, although it might have required shifting the camera postion a bit to the left if possible.

    Windmill
    Yep, that’s a windmill. :) While it’s a well executed shot, it doesn’t have the sense of place that the others do. I like the sun shining through the middle. The reflected highlights at the bottom of the windmill surrounded in shadow are a nice touch.

    Cactus and the Chisos
    Speaking of “sense of place”. Here you’ve combined two defining characteristics of BBNP beautifully. I like the soft, directional light on the foreground and the more direct light on the Chisos. The exposure is very natural looking. This is definitely one of my favorites from the set.

    Milky Way over the Window
    Just great. Don’t know what else to say.

    Cerro Castellan
    Stark and dramatic, this almost looks like infrared. I like the texture and light tones of the foreground. The uneven sky bugs me a little.

    The Cemetery
    Very dramatic. I tried shooting at the Terlingua cemetery on my last visit and found it diffcult, it’s a “crowded” cemetery and featuring any one subject in isolation can be almost impossible. But here the extremely low perspective gives you that subject isolation. But I don’t think this shot would have worked as well with a normal sky. The stars really take this over the top. I especially like the way the brighter area of stars seems to be radiating from the upper portion of the cross. The two more distant crosses in background are a nice touch, and add even more symbolism to this shot.

    Rio Grande River
    I like the shape the wet rocks make in the foreground, as well as the ripples in the water (shutter speed selection was just right, I wouldn’t want to lose those ripples to a longer shutter speed). I love the bluish-green colors that the water is picking up from the sky, not at all what I expect from a muddy river such as the Rio Grand. I like that you’ve cropped to a 5:4 ratio, I usually prefer that format for verticals, as 3:2 often feels too narrow/skinny. There might be a little too much foreground for my taste, I think cropping just a little bit from the left and bottom my tighten up the composition.

    Mexico
    I’m still undecided about ths one. To be honest, I think it would be a boring image without the little white building. But the bulding’s size in the frame and apparent isolation communicates what a vast place the desert is. Maybe a darker sky would help, if it could be done without looking too artificial.

    Sunset
    I love the pink crepuscular rays shooting up from the horizon. Once again your choice to let the foreground go to black is a good one, as it makes the colorful reflecting water of the river stand out that much more. I like that the river leads towards the more distant mountains, which retain a little detail and therefore stand out from the rest of the land.

    The Clouds Come Forth
    I like the vastness portrayed by this composition. What I don’t like is the lack of tonal differentiation between the mountains and the lowest clouds. They sort of blend together. I don’t know if a different B/W conversion could have changed this, if not maybe staying it color would have been better.

    Rio Grande Overlook
    I really like the tones here, with the bright river snaking through the frame towards the distant mountain. I could do without the photographer and extra rocks on the right, if you crop from that side to 5:4 I think it will be just perfect. :)

    Rio Grande (near Santa Elena Canyon)
    Very dramatic. To me this shot is all about the sky (and its reflection. I might prefer the horizon line just a hair lower in the frame, but I wouldn’t want to completely lose the sand at the bottom of the frame because I think it anchors the image.

    Thunderhead Rock
    I like the central placement of your subject and the way the clouds seem to radiate from it. THe low perspective really gives the rock a powerful, imposing look.

    Badlands
    While not a bad shot, it’s not as dramatic as some of the others in this collection and I think it suffers from comparison. I also think the badland images from your previous trip are better.

    Overall this is a very strong set of images, and will make an excellent addition to your BB portfolio. Your ‘voice’ is definitely maturing and growing more distinct, I really like the way you’re using light and particularly darkness (both from shadows and nighttime) in a more deliberate way to strengthen your images. Keep up the great work!

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