“Zabriskie Point” by Bill Leigh Brewer

Black and white image of Zabriskie Point from overhead in Death Valley National Park California landscape

Zabriskie Point. Death Valley. July 5, 2011 by Bill Leigh Brewer

This is one of those shots where I almost feel that I don’t deserve credit for the image. After all, Zabriskie Point is one of the most photographed places in the world. In fact, on this day, I almost skipped it in my drive through Death Valley National Park.

I had already shot there on previous visits and not once did I get an image I was excited about. The light on those occasions was even and the skies were cloudless. The result: pictures of a landscape that is powerful and fascinating, but without that special punch I was looking for.

But on this trip the weather service predicted clouds, so I thought I would give it one more try. On that day, I shot around twenty frames. As you can guess, the light was very changeable. At the moment I shot this image, I was shooting as fast as I could while the patch of light moved across the scene. This one jumped off the proof sheet as the keeper.

I shot all film that day, mostly black-and-white. This image was made on Rollei Infrared Black and White 120 film using my old Hasselblad 500 c/m with an 80mm lens. Since the Konica IR became unavailable, the Rollei has become my IR film of choice. For this film I use a B&W #092 Infrared filter, which is almost visually opaque. Exposure in bright sun with that combination is around f/16 at ¼ second (ISO 400 film).

Regarding the IR film, it gives the image darker tones in a blue sky than regular black-and-white film, creating a dramatic effect that I like. Clouds pop more against that dark sky. It doesn’t give the otherworldly look that the old Kodak IR film had, but the Rollei IR film has just enough infrared sensitivity to make you notice that something looks different. – Bill Leigh Brewer

To see more of Brewer’s work, visit www.billybrewer.com. Follow him on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

Equipment and settings: Hasselblad 500 c/m medium format camera, 80mm lens, Rollei/AGFA Infrared 120 Black and White Infrared Film – 1/4 second exposure at f/16, ISO 400 film