Monday, October 30, 2006

Century Plant, Big Bend, Texas

This is the first image I'm entering in the TPS member's only show for 2006. It is an agave cactus, shot in Big Bend National Park, far out in West Texas. I'd spent the week out there at a workshop and we were shooting towards the Window in the Chisos Mountain Basin. I'd set up on another cactus and waited as the light changed. Plenty of planning and careful composition went into that first picture. I adjusted, fretted and played with a reflector to fill in the darker shadows on the cactus. Tweaked bits of dirt out of the way. It was all set up. The light got right, I shot it. Then what ? Well, I shot it again, just stood there. Moved a bit, tweaked a setting, shot it again. Then I realised - if this was all I'd shoot, that was the best shot I'd take all day. I had to start moving. The light was going - fast. I'd scouted out this one option and I'd shot it - so what next ? Well, frantic action, running around the desert trying to find the next shot. Set it up - quickly! Shoot it, move on - and so on. I eventually (after running around and shooting probably another 20 different compositions) ended up in front of this agave cactus. It was a subtly different colour to all the others - a deeper blue and the falling light made it almost glow. The Chisos mountains by that point were really starting to catch the last rays of the sun, glowing a bright, deep red. Perfect! The sky had been clear, blue and photographically boring all week - but I had it in most of the other compositions. I'd been trying to get a rhythmic relationship between the mountain ranges and the shapes around the tops of the cactus. Playing off each other, trying to create movement in the image. For this one, I got in tighter, cropped the distinctive tops off of the mountain ranges and shot the image above. There's still space around the sides to move through the image and the lighter patch of rocks above the cactus acts like a path through to the background. The warmer colours there tend to move me in that direction too. It turned out to be one of my favourite images from the whole trip - summing up how I see much of far West Texas, but not really being tied to any particular area - the mountains become generic, colour contrast to the cactus. The colours of the cactus cause it to pop and really jump out of the page, helped along by the depth of field I chose. Not a whole lot of post processing to this - bit of local contrast enhancement to help the cactus pop a bit more, some dodging & burning and I removed a few rocks in the scrub grass around the cactus to keep the flow moving around the cactus in the grass.


kz5bw5 said...

For more information on the West Texas Trans Pecos Big Bend Region, be sure and check out and Shane Allen

ursula said...

You know what strikes me about this image? Two things. (1) the pink and green, they are so gentle; (2) the roundness of the thing. It's all sorts of rounds stuffed into a big rectangle. Makes you think about how the earth is round, and how you could just keep rolling around it. On and on.