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Death Valley National Park, California (2017)

There are some things in life that I will never understand. Like why is it that when you try to plug in a USB cable, it’s always the wrong way around the first time? And have you ever tried to get the best possible value from points on a travel credit card? It’s like playing chess against a simulated Grand Master with a few AI hints allowed, but you know it’s still going to result in a stalemate at best. And then there are some people who just cannot be figured out. We all know at least one person of the sort: they definitely have a core of something good inside, but they are broken on the outside. Yes, life is full of enigmas. Oh…and how about that ending to the TV series “Lost”? If anyone ever figured that out, be sure to let me know!

About this photo:

In early 2017, I packed five workshops into a six-week period out in Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra. It was one of the most fun six weeks that I’ve ever experienced, and I witnessed a complete transformation of the entire region in that time. It started with road closures due to blizzards and ended with the peaking and waning of desert wildflower blooms…I saw it all this year. As you can imagine, spending that amount of time in such a photogenic area means being treated to an incredible array of great conditions and great light. Because I was teaching most of that time, I was not doing a whole lot of my own photography. During some of the most spectacular moments of the period I was running laps between workshop participants to answer questions and to make sure that everyone was dialed in for success.

On this particular evening, we had a light beam come blasting down out of the heavens that surpassed anything that I’ve seen in my life, and I may never see anything like that again. I have only a behind-the-scenes shot of it because I was running around helping my participants, but afterwards, things changed. They all locked in like a bunch of Jedi Masters, focused on whichever direction seemed to speak to them the most (and this night they had a lot of options). The direction opposite of where the light beam had shot down was starting to get utterly surreal, so I ran over to where I had stashed my gear and then dashed back out to see if I could find a composition before it was all over. I’m not sure if I’ve ever found a composition more quickly in my life…I just ran to where instinct and having spent countless hours photographing mud tiles told me to go. The light was on its way out, and the pinks in the sky were much more prominent before I got into position…but I actually preferred this moment anyway. And I got it. Perhaps someone who has built a reputation for mud tile images doesn’t need yet another one in her portfolio…but this one is different, and I like it. 🙂

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