Rain In The Desert

We spent the long weekend in Death Valley to get out of the house just for a little bit. This time, we had a reservation at Stovepipe Wells and drove via Ridgecrest, where we stopped for lunch*, and then continued via the Searles Valley and Trona into the Panamint Valley.

Somewhere on the stretch of 395 between Adelanto and Ridgecrest it began to rain quite good, and it didn’t stop raining until we crossed the Panamint Range via Towne Pass. The stillness of rain in the desert and the very earthy and herbal petrichor smells are simply delightful. The photos only carry the visual impressions, unfortunately:

And in case you’re wondering: yes indeed, while I haven’t even finished to thoroughly work on and make some sense of all the photos from our two Death Valley trips last year (a few of them are archived with the “2022 Death Valley Trip” tag) I of course brought the camera along: “Hey, why not add some more photos to my backlog?” 🤪 (it’s not insanity, at least: I expect this result!)

My mindset has shifted. I used to think of the photos that I make as the “product” that is supposed to come out of those trips, but it only adds pressure where none is needed or necessary. So I stopped that. Instead, I’ve come to see photography as the motivator that gets me out and to more thoroughly see and experience a place, any place, as I study and explore it with the camera. It’s the experience itself, the joy of seeing things photographically, and the satisfaction of the photographic process in the field that matters more to me now.

I can’t leave the camera at home and just “be there” either. Merely seeing a thing isn’t enough. Observing it through the camera’s viewfinder with the goal of composing a photo is a different experience with a different quality. The camera heightens the experience, and the photos solidify it.

That doesn’t solve the problem of somehow getting photos of which I think they ought to be shared and seen out somehow, but I have a growing set of themed Collections in Lightroom that help me to keep track of my ideas and create groupings. Not all of these will survive, but maybe one or the other will grow into something useful. Hope springs eternal… (said with a sigh and dash of sarcasm.)


*) at the Oasis Restaurant, which has the nicest service, good food, and a fantastic, smooth & creamy Jalapeño sauce — Peter and I stopped there on the way back home from the 2018 Death Valley Trip so I had to return!


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6 thoughts on “Rain In The Desert”

  1. Really profound and insightful comments. “I’ve come to see photography as the motivator that gets me out” This is why I can go back to the same place over and over cause I’m not there to just see the same place, I am there to “see” it through my lens. Also… “It’s the experience itself, the joy of seeing things photographically, and the satisfaction of the photographic process in the field that matters more to me now”: Wow! that is exactly it! The camera is a tool for meditative focus on the experience of seeing. Without the camera I just wander around looking at things but not really “seeing” since I have no purpose. Making photos gives me purpose and stops the endless chatter and wandering of my mind and lets me think about what I am seeing. This was an excellent post, thank you.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Edward, for the feedback! “The camera is a tool for meditative focus on the experience of seeing” is a wonderful way to put it. We’re much the same it seems — I also love returning to the same place over and over. Everything is always different.

      Reply
  2. Very glad to hear about your shift in mindset, one I share. I take the camera on most of the trips I make, and I agree it adds to the experience of seeing, but I’m perfectly ok coming home without any photos because the trip was still a very enjoyable experience. Of course I always hope to find something worth lifting the camera for, but as you said, we don’t need the stress of feeling disappointed in ourselves if we don’t walk away with a winning image after each and every outing. As for your photos, I’m most struck by Panamint Stripes. I love how the clouds create extra layers with the landscape, most of which are horizontal with the exception of those interesting stripes in that layer below the clouds.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Todd. At times, I still find it difficult to REMAIN in this mindset. Once I see something and get the camera out, I often get carried away and make more photos and too many photos that sometimes become a bit aimless…

      Reply

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