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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Windows On The Natural World

Using subtle framing techniques within her images, Linde Waidhofer creates dynamic photos that guide the viewer through the frame

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Grand Canyon Reflections, Arizona
5) Rafting the Grand Canyon is a high-energy, whitewater adventure, but some of the most memorable (and photographable) moments involve hikes up the many side canyons. Here, walking back to camp in the late afternoon from a side canyon hike, I was surprised to see golden reflections of the canyon walls in rain puddles on rock slabs that were already in deep shadow. I found this upside-down and out-of-place reflection at my feet—as though seen through a window in the dark rock—more evocative of the magic of this spot than the more literal view of the cliffs looking up toward the canyon rim.

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico
6)The Bisti Badlands of northern New Mexico never disappoint. Strange, eroded formations create a surreal landscape. This hoodoo sticking up into a bald sky seemed too simple, though, so I found a nearby overhang of rock and positioned it in the sky above the hoodoo without showing the formation that it was attached to. The result is a composition that asks questions: What? How? Where does this strong intruding shape come from? What holds it up? A successful photograph doesn't have to explain the situation as much as intrigue the viewer.

La Catrina In Front Of La Parroquia, Day Of The Dead, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
7) Everywhere in Mexico, the Day of the Dead, el Día de los Muertos, is a virtual festival of folk art and bright colors, a celebration rather than a time of mourning. San Miguel de Allende is no exception. The main plaza, el Jardín, in front of la Parroquia, or cathedral, is wildly decorated with colored sawdust murals, large paintings on canvas and strings of paper cutouts—too much to put into one frame! So the photographer has to look for telling slices of this crazy scene. Here, I liked the two opposing V shapes of the paper cutouts and the church spire, with a large canvas painting of la Catrina (the elegant grande dame calavera, or skeleton) hung on the church grill serving as a base for this burst of color into a dark sky.

Gravestone, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
8)This is a very different image of the Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende, with an altogether different feeling. I was wandering through the municipal cemetery, or Panteón, and in a back corner I spotted this marble gravestone with a real skull inexplicably placed on it next to a bunch of bedraggled red-orange flowers. Pure serendipity—I swear I didn't touch this grave! Sometimes fate presents you with a perfect still life. It was easy to come in close, cut out the surrounding graveyard and just capture this simple juxtaposition of three elements, each of which in its own right symbolized the Day of the Dead. Nothing more was needed.

Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park, Utah
9)This photo is pure trompe l'oeil. At first glance, it isn't clear whether the thick black line is a crack in the rock wall or a twisted dead tree in front of it. I confess that I love photos that aren't instantly understandable, instantly obvious. Here, I was able to place dark silhouettes against the richly lit and finely textured sandstone of Checkerboard Mesa. The late-afternoon sun had already left the ground in front of me and the diagonal of shadow, plus the tree silhouettes, strengthened the geometry of this composition.

Lower Antelope Canyon, Arizona
10)In this photo, the twisted rock walls of Lower Antelope Canyon seem to form a lozenge-shaped window through which one looks into—what? A glowing interior that seems to emit its own light even though we know it's well below ground. Midday light in Antelope Canyon bounces from wall to wall, gaining warmth and color as it does so. But what makes this photo work, I believe, is the feeling that you're looking through a natural opening, from a literally real world, of ordinary textured sandstone, into a much less real one beyond.

See more of Linde Waidhofer's photography, sign up for her workshops and buy posters and books at westerneye.com.


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