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Crescent Valley – Part IV (Jay)

I have spent an entire week sharing with you a small corner of the world that you might have never known about. I will admit, the previous installments have painted an image of desolation. That was my intent. This is the feeling you would have taken away had you just drove through town and not bothered to stop and meet the people. So let me take a second to introduce to the most interesting man in the world.

His name is Jay, and he has been a 40 year prospectin’ resident of Crescent Valley, NV. Yep, you read that right, he is a real live prospector. He has staked claims all over the valley and its surrounding hills. He literally drives stakes into the ground to mark his claim…old school like you read about. But that doesn’t even begin to tell his story. He’s a modern day Indiana Jones. Here is what I know. The timeline might be a bit off but you get the idea. After getting into a few fist fights in Mexico at the age of 20, he dialed in an education in his home country of Canada. Then he spent 7 winters in the Arctic and another year mining back in Mexico. Eventually he ended up in Crescent Valley. He has been here for over 40 years. Since then he ran an Assay lab in Elko, engineered a Baryte mine, and prospected the heck of them hills. You know what comes along with 40 years of prospecting the hills of Nevada? Lots, and lots of stories. Stories that would put the Dos Equis Man to shame. Jay is the real McCoy. Not only is he knowledgeable, he is generous. He spent 3 entire days answering every question we could think of about Gold Mining, Crescent Valley, Remittence Men, and fist fighting.

What’s the lesson? You miss all of this when you don’t take time to visit with folks. I doubt there is another Jay out there, he was 1 in a million, but you get the idea. The world is more than beautiful vistas and tourist destinations. Next time you want to go somewhere, go to the middle of nowhere. That’s where you will find the real gold!

The Story of Crescent Valley

Thanks for the tour Jay, we can’t say enough.

Justin, Shauna, and Betty…..

Crescent Valley – Part III

The Story of Crescent Valley

My visit to Crescent Valley wasn’t in pursuit of iconic images full of bold colors and breathtaking vistas. It was more of an exercise is creative exploration and story telling. I spent much of my time walking through the streets quietly observing this small town. I began to practice a new creative process of making notes about my impression of an image I captured in my camera. I then reviewed these notes when I began to process the images back home. My hope was that these notes would help me to tell a more cohesive story.. I believe they did, however I also feel I still have a long way to go. My final installment in the Crescent Valley series will be tomorrow, followed by a series of iPhone images I made from the valley on Friday. I hope you have enjoyed it thus far.

Crescent Valley – Part II

Today’s look at Crescent Valley is a blend of both my expectations of the town and what I found once we arrived. Bruce Percy once said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit) “what it is that attracts you to an image is what what you should focus on”. I remind myself of this phrase often when I’m out an about making images. That, and always lookout for rattle snakes. So what was it that attracted me to this image of an abandoned trailer in the middle of this valley? Well, it was in part the trailer itself, however what was far more compelling with the isolation of the trailer imposed by the vastness of the valley. Knowing what my interest in the image was, helped to guide my vision and subsequently my capture. I tried several approaches to the image, some of which I might share later, but nothing was really working. I eventually settled on a cinematic approach I had been working on back home. Once I got back to the darkroom and stitched the three images together, I experienced what it was that drew me to this scene.

The Story of Crescent Valley

Remember, you can always click on an image to view a larger version and save it to your computer as a desktop wallpaper. I hope you enjoy this one!

Photographic Note: I’m quite excited about this image for a couple of reasons.

  • 1) I have been working on developing a more cinematic approach to my image making. I spent much of the summer experimenting around home trying to hone my vision. Finally, I found a place where I could put my practice to good use. To achieve my vision and make this image, I shot 3 frames using my Nikon 45mm PC-E lens then merged them into a single panorama using Photoshop CS5. (I talk about the lens and how I used it in the video below) I’m excited about the results and where my photography is headed. By no means am I ‘there’, heck I don’t know if I would ever want to be ‘there’. The creative process is evolution. That’s what makes it so rewarding. I will say that I’m very aware of the evolution inside of me and I’m excited to see where it leads. I hope you all hang on for the ride!
  • 2)Enough of the existential stuff, another reason I’m fired up about this image is that I used (and can now talk about) Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4. I beta tested it and actually participated a bit in the filter selection. There is a funny story about that in the video. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth the upgrade. New filters, stacking multiple filters, saving stacks of multiple filters as ‘Recipes’, sharing stacks of multiple filters saved as ‘Recipes’ with the photographic community. There is a lot more than that, but you get the idea. As always you can use the code LIGHTASMAGIC to save yourself a few bucks and at the same time help me bring videos like this to you.

Continue for Capture/Processing Notes…

Crescent Valley – Part I

The Story of Crescent Valley

I can’t begin to tell you about how excited I am about this week’s images. We just got back from an epic adventure in the American Southwest. We spent the week in a place that most of the world doesn’t know about, or if it did, it forgot about it long ago. I will be dedicating this week to Crescent Valley, NV. It is a 1 square mile patch of land in the middle of the Nevada desert that is surrounded by North America’s richest gold mines. The mine up the valley from Crescent Valley costs $600k/day to run but produces over $45 million a week in gold bars. It is this mineral wealth that wrote the stories of an untold amount of people who have settled in this valley over the last 200 years. This week I hope to share the stories I found in this quiet forgotten valley.

Today’s Images: A glimpse into the past of Crescent Valley isn’t hard to find. The hills surrounding the valley are rich with history. It helped that we were accompanied by a 40 year resident/prospector. I will have a fully story about our guide and good friend, Jay, on Thursday. For the next couple of days, I will be sharing the places he showed us.

Photographic Note: By the time we assembled the team each day, we ended up doing a majority of our exploration in the worst possible light. When I’m out shooting in these conditions, I tend to look for shapes and contrast. I find these are the conditions that make for compelling black and white images. I processed these images using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. So far it’s the most efficient tool I have found for black and white conversions. Not only is it efficient, it’s powerful enough to expand your creative vision. Nik just released there newest toolset, Color Efex Pro 4. Tomorrow I will have a processing video demonstrating it in action. It is awesome!