Racetrack in Death Valley National Park

What better way to launch this rocket than to go back to the beginning? In my case, this is the first image that I made that had any real meaning to me….

Racetrack

It was 1990, and I was fresh out of Brooks Institute of Photography. I had landed a job with an inhouse studio for Robinsons Department Stores in Los Angeles. I had sold my big studio 4×5 camera, lens and tripod that I had used through school, and had used the money to purchase a Calumet Wood Field Camera and a smallish tripod.

After “borrowing” a lens from the studio for the weekend, I tagged along with Senior Photographer Ken Reece as he drove up to Death Valley National Park (it was most likely still a National Monument at that time). He told me that he wanted to show me this really wild place called “Race Track”. It was my first time to this part of California, and I was really stoked to be exploring.

Race Track is a couple hour drive on a rough four wheel drive road from the campgrounds where we were staying. It was hot and dusty, and my initial excitement had began fading long before we even got close.

When we finally arrived, I was blown away. I had never seen something so strange…..a perfectly flat dry lake with concrete hard mud for a mile in any direction. After walking around for a while, I found the rock in the foreground, and decided that I would use it as an anchor to balance out the mountains in the background.

This was back in the film days, and describing the act of actually taking a photo with a 4×5 camera could fill up a few pages of this blog. Suffice to say, after 10-15 minutes of preparation, I was able to expose two sheets of film. Once I was back in the lab, normal processing produced two identical negs that printed easily. Our vehicle was visible as an extremely small bright spot at the base of the mountain in the background, but a quick spotting job took care of it.

I’ve printed this image as large as 20×24, and it holds up beautifully. It has always had an emotional place in my heart, and I still use it in my Landscape Portfolio to this day…..

Thanx for listening.

AL

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