Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Death Valley 2011

Another photo book I just completed (viewed best with the Fullscreen option). I included pictures I shot from the plane that took me from New York to Las Vegas—I find the images of the varying patterns and landscape formations on the ground mesmerizing [Photoshop makes it all possible bec. it allows me to get rid of the haze that always intervenes when pictures are taken from great distances and through rather dirty airplane windows].

7 comments:

Marlene said...

HI Ulrich, I wanted to look at your new book, but it would not load, just so you know.

Ulrich said...

Thanks for letting me know! It should work now--I had forgotten to change the book's classification from "private" to "public", which I did not notice b/c for me, the book opened just fine.

Marlene said...

Hi, It works now. I am on the run so I just leafed through a few of the opening photos, which are gorgeous! Didn't Death Valley play a role in some famous American novel, one that was not a Western? I'll be back. I love the photos that make the topography below look like a huge quilt.

Ulrich said...

The novel that comes to my mind is McTeague by Frank Norris. Actually, I reread the last chapters that take place in Death Valley after my return, and I must say that, gripping as they are, they describe more a mythical place than the Death Valley I visited. In the novel, McTeague tries to escape a posse by attempting to cross the salt flats from W to E with a mule and very little water. As the mountains slowly recede over the horizon, he spends several days getting deeper and deeper into a vast white desert--the novel ends with him being trapped in the middle of it with no water and handcuffed to a dead pursuer.

Well, the real Death Valley is about 6 miles wide from W to E, and you can cross it in less than a day, provided you brought enough water. With little or no water, you may not survive a single day--dehydration happens very fast in the hot, extremely dry air, and with it comes disorientation and, possibly death. I learned to my surprise that this continues to happen to tourists--recently to a German who tried to cross the salt pan w/o water and to an American couple in the sand dunes to the north.

Marlene said...

I don't know which was more fascinating, the story about McTeague or the story about the people in the present day, who tried to make the trip without water. Lovely, lovely photos. Thanks for posting.

Ulrich said...

BTW We watched Zabriskie Point by Italian director Antonioni two nights ago, and I must say, it was a huge disappointment (Laraine couldn't even watch it to the end b/c she got so bored). Yes, the cinematography is gorgeous, but it's in the service of a film whose message is so obvious and so crudely delivered that I shake my head: What happened to Antonioni? He used to be the master of ambiguity...

Anyway, the impression one gets of Death Valley is misleading: Antonioni seemingly uses it as a contrast to the artificial environment of Los Angeles, which he depicts again and again by using flat billboards in garish colors (wonderfully rendered) as backdrops. In Death Valley, he prefers highly sculptured, but monochrome, mostly white settings. This gives the wrong impression. I'm not holding this against the movie--if anything, this contrast is one of its more enjoyable aspects. I only want to point this out to people who have seen the movie, but have never been to Death Valley. The pages of my book should make this clear.

Werner Frink said...

Ich war nur einmal, 1980 im Westen der USA und auch im Nordteil des Death Valley. Die spärlichen Überreste von Rhyolite hatten es mir angetan, in Beatty erstand ich eine Gedenkbroschüre über diese erstaunliche, kurzlebige Boom-Stadt - und danach trug ich fast 20 Jahre die Idee mit mir herum, darüber eine halbfiktionale Geschichte zu schreiben, in der ich viele historische Faktendetails nutzen wollte. Vor zwei Jahren habe ich das Ding dann für meine Frau geschrieben (nur gut 50 Seiten incl. zwei Dutzend historischer Fotos) - zur ausschließlichen "Verwendung" innerhalb unserer Familie; als (auch) gelernter Buchhändler verstehe ich etwas von dem Elend, das die vielen unberufenen Buchautoren der Welt täglich antun... (Dein Fotobuch ist natürlich von diesem Verdikt ausgenommen.)