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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Capturing Southwest Light


Larry Lindahl explores his desert home in search of the unexpected

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This Article Features Photo Zoom

The Nuns formation in Coconino National Forest.
“We get a few snowstorms each winter,” he says. “The fall color is scattered, but absolutely brilliant when you find it, and stunning sunsets seem to develop frequently. On top of that, Sedona was once inhabited by an ancient culture. When you visit the Hopi mesas, you may see the same petroglyphs and clan symbols that you find in Sedona.

“Living in Sedona has given me the chance to return to scenes again and again,” he adds. “A seasonal waterfall or rain pool may exist for only days. And to get a window of light under storm clouds or a fresh snowfall in conjunction with one of these temporary occurrences takes a little luck after going back to the scene numerous times. When it all comes together, the photograph may look so easy. But as anyone who does this kind of work knows, it’s not.”

The Tech & The Technique
Lindahl’s love for photographing the region has grown since his arrival in 1993. Obviously, photography itself has changed much in that time, and while Lindahl’s approach has evolved both creatively and technically, when it comes to landscapes, he’s still working with a traditional analog approach.

“When I first moved to Sedona I was using a Nikon FE2 camera,” he says, “getting a few images published in calendars, postcards, a few books and national park printed materials. Then one day I made an appointment and showed my work to Arizona Highways magazine. Photo editor Pete Ensenberger was encouraging, but he told me they needed work done with a 4x5 or medium-format camera for the high-quality landscape images that they published.

“That’s when I got serious,” Lindahl continues. “I chose the Pentax 67 camera because it was similar to an SLR camera, only it made images about four times as large. I respect the photographers who have dedicated themselves to using large-format cameras. I sacrificed the dramatic near-far depth of field of 4x5, but I adapted my own style using medium format.”

Lindahl’s style involves getting his camera into places that would be tricky with a larger camera and shooting at a faster pace to catch subtle changes in the landscape that would be nearly impossible. There are trade-offs, but the advantages for Lindahl outweigh the negatives—and they have positively shaped his personal style.

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