Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Faith" an image captured in the Anza-Borrego Desert of Southern california

This is my newest image simply entitled, "Faith." I really wanted a simple name for this uncomplicated composition that would really describe the emotion depicted here...

So here is the skinny on this composition...Last Saturday night, fellow photog and good friend of mine, Chip Morton, and I headed out into the Anza-Borrego desert to capture some night scenes with the famous metal sculptures of Ricardo Breceda that dot the landscape all around Borrego Springs, CA....there are over 130 various scuptures by Breceda in the area: dinosaurs, birds of prey, horses, tortises, big horn sheep, a scorpion. a serpent, and numerous others including this Spanish friar.

However on Saturday night, the sky did not cooperate as I had planned and hoped. There was some strange film/inversion layer hanging over the valley which really cut down on the luminosity and clarity of the stars. And it seemed as if this strange hovering film got worse as the night rolled on instead of blowing away. Bummer, but as a landscape photographer who is at the mercy of the weather conditions, I have made do with the hand dealt to me by mother nature.

Heading out driving into the desert Saturday, I would never have thought that the first picture i would process from that night would be a metal friar carrying a huge cross and rosary....but something in the color range of this image really attracted me to finish and release it first over the other more obvious and dramatic compositions i made. Btw, I have maybe 2-3 more images that I will release from this same night over the next few days...

One little thing that will make this image capture you are now looking at much, much more memorable was actually a tiny little creature that was abundantly present this past weekend in the San Diego County desert: the scorpion. These nasty little buggers were everywhere, and they were freaking me and Chip out because you definitely do not want to get stung by these little guys.

We both carry Ultraviolet LED flashlights for just this reason of spotting scorpions when shooting in the desert and other arid places like the Owen's Valley. The UV flashlights are usually used by forensic specialists to help detect residual bodily fluids at crime scenes...but for a photographer out in the field, these things are the best equipment to spot scorpions from many feet away. A scorpion literally glows in the dark like a Whamo frisbee when even partial espied by a UV light. They very much stand out as there is nothing else that lights up except the scorpion. And to the naked eye, these wicked little beasts are almost undetectable, even in broad daylight. The are so well camouflaged that when we turned the UV lights off and instead shone a flashlight directly on the scorpion, we could not see it even though we knew it was there. Turn on the UV light and that little sucker becomes the brightest thing for 15 feet around. And dreaded scorpions were glowing everywhere Saturday night in Borrego Springs. So bad that the Dude was relegated to stay in the truck all night. He hated it, but it was for his own safety.

They usually sit there and look almost flat and lifeless, seldom moving or even showing any signs of life--but do not be fooled. I am a curious sort, and when we come upon this friar to shoot it, there was a pretty decent sized scorpion glowing right next to the sculpture. It really did not look like it was alive, so I threw dirt on it, enough to half bury it. It did not move or even flinch, so I threw more dirt on it to totally bury is and extinguish its glow. To be certain it was dead, I stepped hard down onto the spot it was buried...that damned thing came flying out FAST and started jutting and darting all over the place until it finally calmed down and came to rest in a spot back behind the friar...this tiny little bug scared the sh!t out of me and Chip. Those things move FAST. Luckily neither he nor I got stung by my stupidity, but I did learn the lesson never to "F" with these dangerous little arachnids. Assume they are alive and well and do not disturb them.

So because of the aforementioned scorpion still lingering in the shooting area around the padre here, I was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking-chairs for the entire time I was shooting this friar...and truly uneasy for the rest of the night at other sculptures we would try to capture.

Partially because of the lack of deep clarity in the stars on this night and partly for the effect of creating a stronger emphasis to the friar, I tried something a bit different with this composition. Shooting at f/1.4, I decided to keep the friar is sharp focus and let the stars bokeh out a bit to bring more focus to the padre and less of a focus on the beauty of the sky in the backdrop. My favorite thing about the composition is the way the colors balance very pleasingly together, complimenting each other quite nicely...

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this composition, even though it is an image of a religious Christian monk taken by a long-haired Buddhist hippy. ;)

Camera Settings; ISO-1250, 24mm at f/1.4 for 15 seconds. Image was captured at 10 mins after 10pm on 10-25-2014.

I hope this composition and message find you well.


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