Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

There’s still Hope

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley NP

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley NP

Perhaps all is not lost.  Maybe there’s still some hope.  When I was wandering around Zabriskie Pint in the pre-dawn light a few weeks ago I saw this young woman setting up, complete with a really nice DSLR and a very solid tripod.  She definitely seemed to know what she was doing.  At first I was a little annoyed – she’d moved into my field of view without so much as an “excuse me”.  Most “seasoned” landscape photographers won’t do that; they’ll simply wait until you’re finished (or go elsewhere).  But she seemed very intent on occupying this particular spot.

So I made her the subject.  And I got to thinking that in many ways she was (is) something of an anomaly.  Most people her age are, at best, smartphone picture-takers. They might have a small point-and-shoot, but that would also be rare these days.  If it doesn’t fit in their pocket, they don’t want it.  Also, note the high quality – and probably expensive – hiking boots.  She wasn’t wearing flip-flops or cheap sneakers.  It was kind of like seeing a young version of an endangered species out in the wild.  Clearly, something we should nourish and protect.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I have nothing against iphone or tablet photography.  I’m using my own iphone more frequently than ever (for photography, anyway.  The older I get, the fewer calls and texts I receive).  It’s really a very fine little piece of photographic equipment.  But there’s so much that an iphone simply can’t do.  It focuses very well, but DOF is uncontrollable.  Heck, everything is usually in focus.  Also, there’s no such thing as “compression”.  And what about long exposures?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smartphone with Image Stabilization.

Of course, they do take wonderful little “selfies”.  Not for nothing, but people who spend their time taking selfies – especially in places like this – ought to be shot.

So I applaud this young woman.  Let’s just hope that she’s not the only one.     


5 Responses to “There’s still Hope”

  1. TomDills

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with at least getting off a frame or two that includes anyone who happens to wander into the frame. My approach is that I can out-wait almost anyone, so if I happen to grab a frame or two with them, then another few frames without, then so be it.

    I’m going to avoid wading into the smartphone discussion here except to say that I just bought a Samsung Galaxy S6, and it has an amazing camera, WITH image stabilization! I’m just getting the hang of using it and may actually decide to start posting some photos I’ve taken with it.

    • Paul Maxim

      In truth, Tom, I’d already taken a number of shots before she entered the frame, so it didn’t bother me at all. And I was fascinated by the sight of a young woman carrying all that gear. You really don’t see that too often.

      My real problem with smartphones goes well beyond photography. Watching my grandchildren use them for virtually all communication is just a tiny bit disturbing. I think the ratio of texts to verbal phone calls is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 50 to 1. Maybe even worse. Non-verbal social media seems to trump everything else. To me, that’s a little scary. Our very language is changing. Yeah, I know. That makes me an old fart. But I still think that the best form of communication is face to face using actual sentences. It’s becoming a lost art.

      And if the entire world starts using smartphones for photography, that might become a lost art as well.

      • TomDills

        Paul, the impact of technology on verbal communication is a real bone of contention for me. A subject for another day. But the number of young people -or people in general – who can’t piece together a compete sentence is disturbing. I guess that puts us both in Curmudgeonville, but that seems to be where we live! 🙂

  2. E. Brooks

    I think there’s still a good bit of “true photography” going on it’s just totally over shadowed by the mass of casual photographers you find at almost any interesting park or location.

    I think I would have ventured to try and respectfully strike up a conversation with this photographer. One thing Bonnie and I have learned recently is everyone’s got a story and most are willing to share them if you give them half a chance.

    • Paul Maxim

      Normally I’d have approached her, too. In this case I didn’t because (1) she seemed really intent on busily going from one spot to another and (2) she was further away than she appears to be in this image. My effective focal length was 300 mm; that’s why the formations she’s photographing look to be fairly close (compression). But you’re absolutely right. My “shyness” seems to melt away when I’m walking around with a camera. Barb and I have had a lot of long conversations with all kinds of people from all kinds of places. It just might be that the stories we hear are the best part of the whole travelling experience……..


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