Macro Photographer, Death Valley. Death Valley National Park, California. March 29, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Photographer Patricia Emerson Mitchell at work photographing the small things in Death Valley
This is perhaps the typical photographic pose for my wife, Patty Emerson Mitchell, when out photographing — down on the ground, intently photographing some small thing that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed. Her speciality is in “seeing” flowers, often not as literal objective depictions of these things but as vehicles for exploring color and line and texture and shape and curve. A flower is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can be many other things, too. On this morning we had stopped near a section of the Death Valley playa where there is a bit of water, and I had wandered off to photograph mountains and sky and the playa. She walked down toward the playa, photographed that stuff a little bit and then headed back toward the car as I continued to work.
Eventually the sun was high enough and I and had photographed here long enough that it was time to head back myself, too. I figured that she might be waiting in the car, but then I remembered, “No, she will be crouched down in the gravel, lens an inch or two from something interesting that I probably stepped over, making photographs.” I had photographed in Death Valley for quite a few years, not unaware that there were flowers, but not paying them all that much attention. On the first trip there that she took with me, for the first time I saw — or, more accurately, was shown — that there are small flowers and plants almost everywhere you look, even on the apparently rocky surface of a dry playa or even under a light snowfall.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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