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"Against the Grain" - Death Valley
"Against The Grain"
Artist's Commentary:   Getting the shot:

The sun had just peaked over the mountains surrounding Death Valley a few minutes ago, casting its first direct light onto the dunes at Mesquite Flats. Because of the sun's angle in the sky above the distant mountains, the warm morning light was quickly loosing its color, rapidly changing to the harsh, stark light of a typical day in the desert.

I was packing up from my previous shot when I spyed this plant seemingly struggling against the overwhelming force of the shifting dunes. The disturbance it created in the sand ripples seemed like evidence of its defiance. I knew I had to work fast if I was going to capture any of the remaining color in the morning light.

I quickly shortened the tripod legs, ran over to the new location and positioned the camera. Tilting the front lens standard down, I was able to achieve the depth of field I needed. I quickly inserted a sheet of film in the camera, took a few spot meter readings to insure I didn't loose detail in the bleached out twigs, and tripped the shutter.

What I like about the print:

I love the way the plant seems to be struggling against the shifting dune and the way the twig and the disturbance in the sand it creates are at an opposite angle to the rest of the ripples in the sand. It just sort of says "Never, ever give up!" Because this shot was made with large format film (4" x 5"), it looks great printed at even very large sizes. I can see every grain of sand, even in the shadow areas, and every crinkle of bark on the twig.

Awards / Recognition:

Selected by the Professional Photographers Association for their 2005 General Collection.

Available Image* Sizes:  
(*size listed here does not include mat)  
11" W x 13" H
16" W x 19" H
20" W x 23.5" H
24" W x 28.5" H
32" W x 38" H
40" W x 47.5"H
For larger sizes, please call
Technical Notes:   Original Photograph
Mesquite Flats, Death Valley National Park
Arca Swiss F-metric 4" x 5", Kodak E100G