I always felt the desert was an ugly immense nothingness full of half dead bushes and dust.
To be honest, I complained in silence about how harsh and strong sun light is in the desert, almost no clouds at all to diffuse it.
There was from time to time a beautiful day that I just had to go out and photograph, but I’m really talking about 15-20 days a year, imagine that.
However, lately, I’ve been traveling back and fort trough the whole Sonoran desert going from California to Arizona. And I’ve gotten used to the colors the panorama has.
Cool washed out blues with warm unsaturated creams, hints of toned down green here and there.
The ground is almost blinding and the only dark colors come from mountains a far, it’s darkness is slowly eaten by the sky depending on how far they are, granting the dark brown rock with an atmospheric hue.
I think the reason why I always hated the desert is because of not putting enough attention to it’s authentic colors, and that when I took photographs of it, I secretly wanted those colors to pop as if I was shooting in the Alaskan forests, where colors compete with each other on pigment density.
Without a doubt this urge led me to edit my desert images improperly, that, and a mix of the newest digital technology in HDR techniques pushed me further into making unrealistic and unbalanced images that tried too hard to not be desert photographs.
Since my outdoors photography experience was a fiasco I found my niche on indoors photography, specifically studio isolated and strobe lights. Which no doubt I still reside in. A niche that I like because of its simplicity and control.
Now I’m more aware of color than I was before… I’ve said in the past that black and white is the easy way out; A cheat… And I find in the desert a point in the middle of color and monochromatic.
Because realistically, the colors in the desert work great together, amazingly well, nature is probably the reason why color theory is a thing, not to say that color theory doesn’t work, but that it works because of nature (look at it as evolution working it’s way into our visual taste).
Light, on the other end, is unique, harsh and warm, with a big blueish contrast in the shadows coming from the sky. deep crisp shadow edges are good for dramatic effect, and one has to embrace that.
I guess the whole point of this letter soup is to realize that you have to work with what you have, I’ve always believed that to be true, but I never figured out how to work with the desert in particular, I think I have now, and that lesson is of letting it be real and unique. Sober and hypnotic as it is, amazingly big and overwhelming, almost surreal.
Photographer, Illustrator, Adventurer, Rogue Scientist.