Brittlebush & Slot Canyon Wall

Brittlebush & Slot Canyon Wall, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California. February 2013.

Brittlebush & Slot Canyon Wall, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California. February 2013.

A rather minimal, “still life” image from the desert. I like the quiet and contemplative nature of this photo. In one of the countless photography books (about composition, design, the photographic eye, and whatnot) I’ve read that our eyes/brain somehow likes making connections, and a triangle shape seems to be among the most favorable. The bush itself has an almost triangular shape, and when it’s connected with the two granite rocks that are half-buried in the sand, it forms another triangle. It also seems that the diagonal pattern in the background, as a “positive rise” (from left to right, like the way we read) is a design feature that pleases our eye and perception. The question remains whether all this is natural, or the result of reading too many photography books. :)

This is a “relatively” straight forward digital black & white conversion. The most important part of this particular appearance is the application of a blue filter emulation, which rendered the ochre colored canyon wall very dark. Increasing the luminance of the green and cyan channel gave the Brittlebush this almost white, infrared-like appearance. Finishing steps included a little bit of classic dodge and burn to address hot bright spots and areas that were too dark.

I won the Anza Borrego Foundation‘s 2014 Desert Photo Contest with this image, in the Black & White category. Here’s what judge Donna Cosentino had to say: “This elegant image has its own unique power. The luminescent tones are reminiscent of a darkroom print… lush and rich. It has wonderful emphasis on texture and composition. The fact that such a simple subject could capture Alexander and make us, the viewers, bring our attention to this little bit of life against a canyon wall is a strong statement of vision.”

4 Responses

  1. Congratulations, Alexander! It IS elegant. I really like the two whitish rocks(?) left of lower center. That’s another element of interest for me.

    1. Thank you, Jeff. Yes, they’re rocks. Granite pebbles, to be precise. The bedrock is a conglomerate of sandstone with granite inclusions. Erosion washes away the soft sandstone and releases the granite, which then gets washed down the canyons and rounded by flash floods. Probably a process that takes more time than we humans can possibly fathom…

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