Take a break from "serious photography" and you might get a serious photograph
By William Neill
From inside our tent, the incessant flapping of the tent fly told me that the spring winds were coming up today. It was still dark outside, and I was glad that we were going home and would miss out on the pending sandstorm. My family still slept and dawn was about to come. For the past three mornings, I arose to photograph the Death Valley sunrise. The trip had been fun for the family, plus I was very pleased with some new work I had made.
This morning, I decided to just get up and watch rather than blast off in my vehicle for a serious photo session. Sometimes I like to put the camera aside and just soak in nature’s beauty with all my senses. Besides, I wasn’t jaunting off to one of Death Valley’s prime sunrise locations like Zabriskie Point or Badwater, so I had no expectations photographically.
But then, as I sat outside our tent and in spite of my "morning off" plan, some clouds above me began to turn pink. Ah, yes, just soak it all in. Time to relax...I lasted about five minutes! The clouds were forming a beautiful pattern and the colors became brighter, so out came my camera. As I photographed the clouds, some ravens performed some antics in the sky above me with the dramatic clouds behind. Now I was awake and energized, and in full "seeing" mode. The ravens and clouds combined wonderfully in my frame.
Then I wandered away from camp to where I could see the sun come over the mountains. Shafts of light streaked into the sky as the sun reached the horizon. After rising, the sun went behind some clouds above the peaks. Besides their dynamic formations, the clouds were showing luminous rainbow colors in their ice crystals. I was having fun now, and when opportunity knocks...! As I photographed, my daughter ventured out of our tent and enjoyed the moment with me.