Wide Open Space in the Valley of Death

W i d e   O p e n   S p a c e s

It is surely the most used phrase in my writings. Many words and places come to me in a vain effort to describe these. Endless Entity. Dimensionless Deserts. The gramadulas of Namibia, unbeaten King of all wide open spaces. The outback of Australia. Plains of New Mexico. Into the nothing.

I still search for adequate words to describe what happens to me in these magical places of the world. It goes beyond loving exploring these as photographic locations. I experience a deep emotional over-reaction to any large remote and desolate wide open space. Perhaps it simply reminds me of my home planet. The unrestrained dimensionless spaces takes my breath away. With no dimensions, no borders nor constraints of my vision, it is close to ultimate freedom and escapism. I look to books like Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars) from French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for a wonderful description of this particular feeling and state of mind.

Death Valley in USA, hottest place on Earth and one of my favourite American locations. It was my home for 6 days and I have only scratched the surface of this enormous valley, I must return. On my first day I was rewarded with exceptional dusk light and I am currently toying with several of the images, searching for the perfect image, crop and post processing. Here is a work in progress of Badwater salt flats which in this very late dusk light turns into an otherworldly magical place. I am still deciding on the crop and the variations of this image, the use of black space is of course Ansel inspired.

death valley-blog

Creating a good image of a wide open space is a challenge. You are shooting ‘nothing’ but must make ‘nothing’ look beautiful, moving, disturbing and interesting somehow. You must also convey just how wide open the space is. You also as always need some sort of compositional anchor in the image and you are highly dependent on Mother Nature’s clouds and light. I get it right once in a blue moon but learn from every attempt.

Mother Nature has brought me home. Welcome to my world. Perhaps that’s a way to describe what I experience in these places. I shall keep exploring them, creating images and attempting to describe them.

PS. Please do not tell Wide Open Spaces that I am also having a love affair with Ocean.

24 Comments on “Wide Open Space in the Valley of Death”

  1. Beautiful! I wouldn't have believed it was real unless I saw it for myself. I don't think it could have been captured any better.

    1. Hi Scott and thanks! This is of course from the night we met on the salt flats, I know you got some great shots too from your Flickr account. Hope you're well, see you again some day!

  2. I knew your homies in Area 51 had thrown you a welcome home party, but 6 days! Geez you lot are party animals…. 😉

    "PS. Please do not tell Wide Open Spaces that I am also having a love affair with Ocean."

    Wide Open Spaces is a jealous woman huh? Careful Flemming, you know they say hell hath no fury quite like one!

    1. 6 days of alien shenanigans, yes they did put on quite a welcome party for me! Testing the new spaceships and bowling at the racetrack was a highlight 😉

      I hope I can count on my Wide Open Spaces but I tread carefully, don't wanna jinx anything!

  3. I am serious as ever. Your attraction to open space comes from a previous life. It seems it is a very strong, intense and repetitively showing up situation within your whole existence. You must have lived somewhere there… You choose where!

  4. you will love the wide open spaces of True North mate, lounging on the front deck, cocktail in hand with two other photographers clouding your shots!! haha

  5. I like it Flem, the ultra deep blacks work wickedly!
    Did you get an ultra wide vertical as well?? I have always loved those images from here where you're nearly looking down on the salt patterns, and then follow them criss crossing up to the sky.

    And… with all of your talk about UFO's… it appears you have captured quite a few of them through your sky??? Or it could just be dust of course…. haha 😛

    1. Cheers Stephen, glad you like the blacks as I really do as well. They're basically from the Lee filters although I could have added them in Lightroom I guess. I do have the same image in vertical, classic view camera composition from feet to the sky. Might use that version, or both!

      You spotted my friends in the UFO's, well done mate! Haha. I wish it was UFOs but my guess is a mega amount of sensor dust. By this time my sensor had really taken a beating from the dry dust of southwest US and there are spots like I sneezed repeatedly on the sensor. I cleaned the sensor a few days later, should have done it earlier.

      The automatic sensor cleaning feature of the 5D Mk II probably slows down the dust contamination but it in no way prevents it! You still absolutely need to clean sensor manually.

      1. haha, I know it is dust. was good to see the human spirit level has shown one weakness 😛 lol

        mine's in bad need too actually, so this reminds me I should get that done soon haha. cloning out dust spots for 15min each image isn't my idea of fun 😛

  6. Yep well done WaytogoBo!

    Almost an Eastway feel to it with that sky dude!

    I can see there's going to be some banter on this cruise between us!

    1. Thanks Mark! Eastway would have blowtorch burned the entire bottom of the image as well hehe, but I love his stunning work so I am very flattered by the comparison. The use of black space was though primarily Ansel inspired, from one of his most famous shots: http://www.anseladams.com/content/ansel_info/anse

      As for PNG…I think it'll be banter heaven, we must do a few silly videos too. Christian reckons he has enough pixels to crop me out if I'm in his shots so I shall test that to the limit and add Danish superstar flavour to his every exposure 🙂

    1. Thanks Adrian! No I'm high as a kite hehe. No I got the tripod at max extension. I find if I get low at the Death Valley salt flats pattern it becomes really squashed and doesn't work. Works better the higher you get. Unlike sand dunes where the patterns are smaller, and it's really good to get very very close to the sand.

  7. Inspiring image indeed reminds of some of the colour we get in our Pilbara and I love the composition on this one going from the close encounter with the salt to the colours in the horizon to the endlessness of the sky great work Bo.

  8. Great post and read Flemming. I think its how everything is broken down to the barest basics in these spaces and the smallest things,sounds etc that are easily lost in other landscapes can now be heard and seen.
    Nice image – rather 'Fredericksy' 🙂

    1. Thanks Tony, I think you're right on the bare essentials and the fact that with nothing there everything gets magnified and the only journey is inside yourself.
      I am very inspired by him so very happy you reckon it's 'Fredericksy' 🙂

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