Dealing with High and Low Contrast in the Same Image

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

The Resting Place, a photograph of a Great Basin rattlesnake curled up on dried mud, was made in 1987 in Peekaboo Canyon, one of the many extraordinary canyons within the Escalante River complex of canyons in southeastern Utah. Peekaboo Canyon’s lower portion becomes a series of relatively circular hollows, perhaps 10 feet in diameter and several feet deep, with upward-curving, steep-sided walls that become vertical. So standing in any one of them is like being in a deep salad bowl. The rounded bottom of each hollow was covered with plates of dried mud, which continued up the lower curved wall Read more »


Working a Photographic Image

The Right, the Wrong, and the really Ugly Way
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

On the last day of October 2007, I went into the cosmic rock garden known as the Alabama Hills, beneath the eastern wall of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though I have photographed in the Alabama Hills since the early 1970s, I felt I needed to break out of a mold of photographing backlit or edge-lit rocks … and I did! Most exciting for me was when I found an enormous over- hanging boulder, from which other boulders could be framed in relationship to the giant under which I stood. I quickly set up my 4×5 Linhof Technika camera, with a Read more »


Time Bracketing

Whether Using film or digital, photos benefit from employing time to freeze or blur motion
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

This issue’s article has little to do with printing, but a great deal to do with exposing an image—and it applies equally to black-and-white or color, and to digital as well as traditional exposures. It has to do with the length of exposure time for a moving subject, in this case a waterfall. At the east end of Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park, the water rushes out in a small, but wonderful display of crashing fury. Only about 60 feet across, and probably no more than a 35-foot drop, the waterfall is, nonetheless, quite spectacular. The question is: what Read more »

The Virtues of Abstraction and Patience

written by: Bruce Barnbaum

I began photographing Antelope Canyon on January 2, 1980, having discovered it late the previous afternoon, too late to begin any photography. I was the first person to ever photograph that extraordinary location, and several other slit canyons in the vicinity systematically, pushed by my fascination with them and my astonishment that such places could ever exist. In 1981, I began a series of workshops in nearby Page, Arizona, bringing many students to some of those canyons, and inadvertently helping to turn the area into the unfortunate tourist attraction it has since become. But the slit canyons have always remained Read more »


Your Light Meter Doesn’t Lie

Eyes may perceive light as even when it's not
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

Coutances Cathedral is located in northwest France. Though it is not one of the “storied” cathedrals of France (such as Notre Dame or Amiens) it is a marvelous structure. I visited the cathedral in 1999 on a 10-day trip through Normandy, prior to presenting a workshop in the south of France. The portion of the soaring structure that resonated with me the most was the east end of the cathedral, its rounded apse. The cylindrical columns holding up the magnificent vaults, as they curved gently around the eastern end was a truly amazing sight. Fortunately, I had a great deal of Read more »


Decision Time

Oftentimes one must choose the focus before composing an exposure
written by: Bruce Barnbaum

I always stress that two things are necessary for photographers to make a good photograph: they must have a strong rapport with the subject matter, and must understand fully how they respond to the scene at hand. When there are contradictions or crosscurrents, photographers must make a choice. For example, suppose you want to make a photograph of a person you find interesting and wonderful, yet you also recognize that the person is downright ugly. What do you do? Do you try to boldly depict the physically ugly person (who may then come across as repulsive to the viewer)? Or do you Read more »