Picture: Photographer next to tracks left by mysterious moving rocks on the dried flat mud at the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California
Last fall I had my first chance to visit the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park. While walking out on the Playa, I met a photographer I’ll simply refer to as Bob, since I can’t recall his real name right now. Anyway, it turned out that Bob lived fairly close to me, and we struck up a conversation. I noticed on several occasions that Bob would come up to where I was shooting and start working the same scene. After sunset, we hung out in the parking lot, shared some nice conversation and libations. All in all, despite feeling slightly intruded on in a couple instances, I found Bob to be a nice, pleasant, and personable guy.
The next morning at dawn, I was back on the Racetrack, shooting the mysterious moving rocks and their distinctive tracks. Sure enough, just at the critical moment as the light was about to transition across the track I’d selected, changing from shadow to sunlight, Bob walks up & starts taking pictures. I’ll admit, at that point I was silently upset & frustrated. I was too polite to say anything, so I stood there biting my tongue as the sweet light quickly approached. Suddenly I remembered another photo when I’d returned to a previously scouted photo only to find an entire family sitting exactly where I wanted to put my tripod. At that moment, I decided rather than move, I would photograph the scene as it was in front of me. With a quick shift in position, I was able to make the photo about Bob, and the experience of being a photographer out in that magical location.
Surprisingly enough, what I first thought was a complete lemon of a situation, turned out to be one of my better photos from that morning. Furthermore, the inclusion of a person make the image all that much more unique from an editorial perspective.
So the next time life hands you lemons, just remember how good lemonade can taste on a hot summer afternoon.
See more of my Death Valley Photos in my online web gallery.
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