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Badwater & the Panamints at Sunrise, Death Valley

Posted by
Barbara Lee (Oakland, United States) on 15 April 2011 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

I am busy working to get my photos ready for submission to my calendar publisher for the 2013 calendars. All submissions are due to them by May 1, and we have the month of April to get ready. Here is one image from my road trip last week that I am including. This is a sunrise view across the badwater salt flats. The flats appear at the two bright lines and the Panamints in the distance are lit by the rising sun.

When I am not taking photographs or enjoying retirement, I coach school principals. Today, I was working with one of my clients and I noticed a calendar on her wall of Yosemite National Park. Gotta say, the image for the month was, in my humble opinion, a photo that would never have made it from my HD card into the computer. It was a photo of one of the falls through a deeply shadowed grove of trees. It made me realize that when my calendar company makes its choices of photos for their calendars, they must be looking with the eye of the average consumer - a buyer who may not appreciate the nuances of fine art photography. I am trying to keep this in mind when making my selections this year.

This particular image may not have made it off my hard drive, but I have decided to include it. What do you think? Is it a fine art image caliber image or one which would have appeal to the general public? Would you appreciate seeing this picture on your national parks calendar? Honest feedback is appreciated!

NIKON D90 1/40 second F/16.0 ISO 500 105 mm (35mm equiv.)

To view more of my images, visit my portfolio at Barbara Lee Photography. Also, visit my Facebook fan page at!/pages/Barbara-Lee-Photography/244133283497[/url

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Shahryar from Isfahan, Iran

beautiful shot :)

15 Apr 2011 6:11am

Aubélia from Kortrijk, Belgium


15 Apr 2011 7:19am

guillaume from Paris, France

Magnific !!

15 Apr 2011 8:59am

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

First off, I think I know exactly what you are talking about..I have seen calenders, right here in my office where I work, that in my opinion just absolutely reek. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an expert photographer, yet I look at some of this junk and I always think "Man, I need to try and get some of MY stuff on to these trucking company or tool supply (etc etc) calenders... for heaven's sake"...So I think I know where you are coming from, Barbara. If I may, I might suggest that if you are submitting to the same folks you did last year, (A) I want two, please!! and (B) I might suggest cautioning the possible "diminishment" in the visual/emotional quality of the images...if the stuff you sold them last year made them happy, then I would think that they like you alot and are used to your quality and any "turn down" in that "quality" might backfire on you...just my thought...but I totally understand what you are saying about the standpoint of their reviews, i.e. what they are "looking for" .. so you be the judge, I am just throwing in my 2 cents. I know nothing about this stuff. I just know what I like but we notice stuff that most folks may not, you are right about that.

As for this image here, I really love the contrasts in light and color..I think the image would be one that would make the viewer go "whoa, that's cool" ...the ONLY thing that I think about also is the fact that the tops of the peaks there are maybe just a tich dark and just the slightest touch of a shadow bar might bring out just a wee bit more visibility on the peaks...not too much because I think I know what you are going for want to display the contrast in shades and convey this as you saw it...but the clouds in the sky are a bit brighter and so I am thinking that if the mountains remain the darkest element (which they should), maybe just keeping them as the darkest element but sliding them a TICH lighter than what they are..that might allow for more of a :"flow" transitionally throughout the entire frame from bottom to top etc. and therefore,enough "visibility" for the eye to go INTO the mouuntains more and have a look around....Now the average Jane may not see any of that in one sense, but I think her eye will....
OK I will shut up before you throw me out...Regardless of anything that I have said, however, Definitely please DO submit this image though - it is magnificent and very dramatic!
Best wishes Barbara - hope none of what I said is bothersome...I am your biggest fan!

15 Apr 2011 12:43pm

@Denny Jump Photo: Denny, you amaze me! I do not know how you have the time to craft such thoughtful replies to my posts. I really appreciate your input, and yes, I can see some of these shadow areas that may need a bit of tweaking. Having said that, I also agree with you that it is tricky. There was a dynamic range of light to this image, and I think that the shadows are part of that, too. Have a great day!

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

ps - looking at the mountains again - it may be difficult to make them any lighter at all.....but you know what you are is a winner right here ;-)

15 Apr 2011 12:47pm

Florence from Paris, France

A great photograph indeed Barbaba, love the different layers of colors here on the foreground. This is really a remarquable shot.

15 Apr 2011 1:23pm

Marie LC from Entre montagnes et Bretagne, France

Merveilleuses couleurs. J'aime l'alternance ombre/lumière de ce très beau paysage

15 Apr 2011 5:19pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

Yah Barbara you are right...aftyer looking at it more and more, I brgan to really see that working that darkness any more than you have would probably screw everything up...that is why I usually try to reserve my comments to the "how does it make me feel" mode...Besides, I have always had a problem with critiquing things from a technical aspect because unless you were standing right there with the photographer at that moment, it is often VERY difficult to judge what and why the photag go for it girl! You are the tops!!

15 Apr 2011 6:34pm

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Crikey that's almost an unfair question Barbara, it is so difficult to make a judgement such as this based upon the low resolution softened image that AM3 provides us, your monitor will display the high res. image in a much sharper fashion for you. But as a general scene for a consumer to look at, or for their clients to look at, it is pleasant enough hang on a background wall or sit on a desk, I guess the main consideration should be "would it inspire someone to visit the park?"

My feeling is that I'd like to see more, so I guess it scores on that point.

15 Apr 2011 7:11pm

David from Detroit, United States

Barbara-- I love the bottom half of the shot. I can just see the movement of the cloud shadows move across the face of the mountains. I agree with Curly that the lower-quality versions we see on Aminus make it difficult to critique well, but assuming that your original isn't much different than what we see here-- the shot becomes more problematic at the top of the mountain and into the sky. There isn't much contrast or definition there, especially if it is going to be printed in four colors. The printer will often crank the saturation, and I don't know what that will do with the overcast sky.

16 Apr 2011 12:49am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Wow..beautiful it!

16 Apr 2011 2:38am

karla from Omaha, United States

Well, ok, you asked, here goes, my thoughts for what they are worth, and I hope they help you decide and do not discourage. Part of my difficulty right off is not knowing what other images this would be competing with in the calendar, and what that calendar is supposed to "say" to viewers. National Parks calendar .... not so sure this would inspire me to visit. I'd like more going on in the top half of the image, for example if the clouds showed a rainstorm on the way, or a peak at blue sky, maybe more contrast, maybe less blue, or maybe increased overall saturation. And I agree that it all seems too soft. I also don't know where to look--what is it you want us to show the viewer? As an editor I think I'd be asking, what else ya got?? On the plus side, it is a very natural scene that shows desolation of the area. I have seen a couple of your images here on Am3 that you had in calendars, and in my mind, they seemed to sparkle and sing more than this one does. Ultimately, you are the one who knows what your publisher likes to see from you. I hope you let us know what you decide! :-)

16 Apr 2011 11:21pm

karla from Omaha, United States

Another thought....sorry, not wanting to monopolize, but it's hard to critique something that you cannot see for "real" and I wonder if my monitor is not seeing this image as you are seeing it? What are the actual colors of the scene? For example, is the lit area reddish and or a golden brown? Right now I am seeing this as somewhat bland with quite subdued tones, basically soft yellowish browns and shadowy blues, and that might be different from what you actually are seeing. So, I go back to my idea of increasing contrast and saturation to improve it. But perhaps that is what the calendar company does, anyway.

16 Apr 2011 11:29pm

clodagh smith from Sacramento, United States

just my opinion but I think you should submit only what you feel is your best work. I like this image but if in your heart of hearts you feel it doesn't measure up to your highest standard maybe you should skip it.

17 Apr 2011 2:36am

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

amazing light captured here! the way it creates different layers of colour and texture is just brilliant! very nicely taken to capture this effect! there is good drama to the scene that adds extra interest as well!

18 Apr 2011 7:33am

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

I too have seen some images that made me wonder how they made it into a calendar. BTW - I just clicked back through your shots to see what I've missed for a couple of weeks. I like the sand shots and the tree series too.

18 Apr 2011 1:37pm

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

Lovely variations in light - the beautiful colors of the landscape!

19 Apr 2011 10:43pm

1/40 second
ISO 500
105 mm (35mm equiv.)