by Ron Toel
Other Articles by Ron Toel:
Arid regions, for the photographer, really test ones art for seeing. Since they offer a minimum in the choice of scenery, because it is scenes with rocks and little or no vegetation, but usually has many sand forms which are constantly changing.
The more arid a desert is, the less vegetation there is and so the stark scenery is even more. In extreme deserts, the bare topography makes fine material the simplified images. Not only are these arid deserts unusual to be interesting because of their contrast with other habitats, but they also provide a rare chance to create geometric images. With little or no grass, shrub or trees, the important elements within the image is the shapes and textures of the rocks and sand.
There are three types of desert topography. These are all influenced by the wind…..which becomes important only when there are no plants available. Desert pavement is a surface of rocks and gravel scoured of fine particles of wind. Sand dunes occur where the wind is forced to slow down. Thus it drops its load of sand. This happens on the lee side of rocks and low hills. Once a sand dune has begun, they always continue to add more sand and grow. Rocky hills stick out from the level sands. They become weathered by the violent actions of the run off from the occasional storms, or the strong winds blowing sand, and the flaking due to temperature changes.
Desert bushes, grasses, or cacti modifies the quality of the landscapes and is more common than bare sand or rock. Even though most of the plants make for less desirable images. Certain type of plants have very definite shapes ( saguaro cactus) that they can be used for graphic compositions.
Because of so little rainfall, desert light can be very predictable. Low in the sky sun positions give the most positive results for shapes and textures ( ripples in the sand or eroded rack surfaces). In the heat of the day, heat shimmers may give a partly blurred image especially with long lenses. Ultra violet and polarizing filters usually help this problem. These filters also correct the high reflections of the sand and rock.
The desert is one place where one needs extra care in protection of ones delicate electronic equipment. Dust and grit tend to fine all the cracks and grooves of the bodies and lenses. Also protect them from the intense heat.
Even though adverse conditions exist, this doesn’t mean that one should avoid the challenge of these types of places. Put in your “good eye” and create a masterpiece. This type of place is Wayne’s favorite, it may become yours as well.
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