ConstellationVIII_425

Constellation VIII, Uyuni, Bolivia, 2013

It had been a very long drive. Looking for other exotic locations along the way, we (I was traveling with colleagues Seth Resnick and Eric Meola) had taken the long way around, traveling for five days at high altitude, up to 5,000 meters, through Bolivia’s Altiplano to Salar de Uyuni the largest salt desert in the world. On arrival we began looking for water, which was seasonal and unpredictable. Unsuccessful at first, at first we found only mud beneath a cracked crust, later we found a few wet stains, still later a larger area slick enough to glisten in the sun, much later a larger slick against a mountain that offered limited reflections, and finally, late on the second day we found a large expanse of water. But there was wind and in many areas the water was too deep to access. We waited at our nearby hotel, made completely of salt; the walls and floors and tables and desks and chairs were all made of salt. Returning for the day’s final light, we found the wind had moved the water and then died down leaving a glassy sheet of perfect reflections as far as the eye could see, ringed by clouds. Walking on/in it was disorienting. You felt like you were walking on/in the sky. And then the color began to change and bloom. It was divine. We spent hours photographing, until the light faded and the winds picked up again. We returned the next day, our final day, to find similar almost ideal conditions and later the new introduction of lightning storms and rainbows behind us. We felt exceptionally fortunate.

If there was no rain, there would be no water to hold reflections; we would have been limited to making photographs of cracked salt patterns, a few piles of salt, and the distant mountains. If there were no clouds, there would be little to reflect. Even though this type of weather was typical at this time of year, and this time of year only, there were no guarantees. We had not only timed it just right and planned for enough time to succeed in, we also got lucky.

Stack the odds in your favor and do your research to know when optimal conditions are most likely to occur. There are situations where you can take actions to increase the probability of ideal conditions occurring and there are situations when you can’t – and knowing which situation you’re in is important. In situations where you can’t be more proactive, it’s wise to plan for a little extra time, in case you have to wait for ideal conditions to arise. It’s never easy to know when it’s best to move on and when it’s best to wait it out. Prior experience helps but it will only get you so far. Keep your eye on the weather and seek out local knowledge whenever possible.

Questions

How can you best prepare to make the most of optimal conditions?

What are optimal conditions for the task at hand?

When are you most likely to experience optimal conditions?

Is there anything you can do to increase the likelihood of optimal conditions occurring?

Is there anything you can do to improve current conditions?

When is it better to move forward rather than wait?

When is it better to take a new approach rather than return?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here. 

Find out about my Atacama Desert Argentina digital photography workshop.

My free May desktop calendar features an image from the Atacama desert.

Download it here now.

Find out about upcoming events here.

I had a marvelous time in Uyuni, Bolivia with Seth Resnick and Eric Meola after our recent Atacama desert adventure in Argentina.  (Find out about our Dec 6-14, 2013 Atacama workshop here.)

These three new images are the first of many. They’re quite similar to several continuing bodies of work – Reflection, Exhalation, and Refraction  – and they are also distinctly different. (Preview the Blurb books for each series here.) They are also related to another series currently in development that I’ll share soon. Which series are they a part of? Are they a part of many series?Are they a separate series?

Two previously released images are from the same location, but they don’t have the light effects. Are they a part of the same series?

Why don’t I just title the images with a place and date? Because these images are statements about internal truths rather than external facts.

(You can read more about How I Title My Images here.)

(Read my advice on How To Title Your Images here.)

It would be easy to say, “Use any title you want. You’re the artist!” While it’s harder to do, I think that titles work best when they honor the content of the work and communicate that effectively to others.

It takes time to work these things out. There will be more new images. And, my understanding of this work will grow. How long this process may continue is unknown. But I need to title these images – soon.

It’s Untitled for now. But, not for long.

What would you title these images?

After Seth Resnick and I finished our recent Digital Photo Destinations workshop (See our itinerary here.) we scouted possible new locations with Eric Meola in Bolivia’s high deserts guided by the first rate Daniel Portal of Another World Photography. The highlight of the trip was a 24 hour session on the Uyuni salt flats. Afternoon storms added an electric drama to the edges of the playa and turned other parts of it into a mirror. Whether at sunrise, midday, or sunset it was like walking on/in the sky. It was truly one of the most sublime landscape moments of my life ranking right up there with hellcopter aerials over Namibia’s Sossusvlei, cruising through Antarctica’s The Gullet, or quietly watching the evening colors change from sky blue to gold to dusky gray behind Iceland’s Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

These images are a few of my quick iPhone sketches.
It will take some concentrated time to finish my final images.

Digital Photo Destinations is returning to all of these locations in 2013.
Email jpc@digitalphotodestinations to be the first to hear about these workshops.


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