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Finding the Picture with Brooks Jensen

Finding What Interests You

Here is an overview of Saratoga Springs in Death Valley. Consider the possible images that could be made from this area: the water and the water's edge; the reeds and grasses; the white salt deposits in the grass; the red soil and line that goes through it, the distant mountains with the blue sky; all of the above or various combinations. Indeed, the list of possibilities is practically endless. Clearly, in the artmaking process there is no "right answer." So what to choose? My answer is always, "Photograph what interests you, what speaks to you, what you respond to." You are more likely to make an interesting photograph when there is interest in you to begin with.

What fascinated me in this scene was the contrasting shapes of light and dark in the black hills. For reasons I can't seem to explain (because they are probably deeply buried in my subconscious), the water, the reeds, the realistic landscape simply didn't capture my attention or my imagination. But those shapes in the hills . . . wow!

For me, it was an abstract from start to finish. What does the image below have to do with this location in Death Valley? Not a thing. But I couldn't have made this image if I hadn't gone there, camera in hand. I guess my thoughts have always been that it's less important where you go and what you see than it is how you react and what you can make from that response.

Is my photograph a great image? I have no idea and it may not be my place to decide. All I can say for sure is that this image is my genuine reponse to this intersection of landscape and my emotions of the moment. What more can we ask of our artmaking process than that it be a genuine, personal reponse?

Tech data:

Panasonic G9 using a Panasonic Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4 lens at 156mm. ISO 200. f/5.0 at 1/2500th sec.