#1046. Earthshine (colour magic in Antelope Canyon)

By Lani Edwards | Art & Creativity

Oct 08

Colour beguiles you and can be a sly mistress that easily conceals or misleads. In the words of famed street photographer Daidō Moriyama, I find colour obscene. It carries such strong emotions and in most cases, does all the work for you.

A black and white image, has to stand on its own merits and it takes all the principles and elements of design to make a shot work. You are not relying on colour to do the work for you and therefore, there is, strangely enough, more passion for me in a black and white photograph than in a colour saturated one.

And then I visited Antelope Canyon in Arizona. How quickly did I take a tumble off my monochromatic/black and white/desaturated high horse? The shapes and play of light on those rock formations absolutely begged me to slide that saturation slider all the way to the right.

I had to however (because I’m hard headed) go through the motions of first processing the first few images in black and white to answer my own questions: “Would it be a successful shot if there was no colour? Does it have the same emotional impact?”

It was then that I realized to my dismay that I have become a black and white photography snob. I had unconsciously believed for years, that there was only artistic merit to be found in black and white images.

“What I saw was that the colour image had more information in it, simple as that! There was so much more to see and consider, whereas black and white reduced the world to shades of grey.” – Joel Meyerowitz

Even though I was quite happy with how the initial images turned out in black and white, it was only once I started processing them in colour, that I was audibly blown away by what I captured during a frenetic rush through the canyons. Yes, I admit. Some of these made me whimper just a little bit.

If you’ve ever visited and were, like me, too cheap to fork over the gazillion dollah they asked for the photography tour, you’ll know that they herd the groups through at an alarming rate. There is no time to setup a shot or to linger and expect the light to change, or wait for fellow tourists to skedaddle out of your frame.

The unfavourable and unforeseen circumstance forced me to change my plan on what to shoot and how to capture the sensual beauty of those rocks and for that, I am pretty thankful. It would have been just another predictable set of slot canyon images as shot by countless other people, if I wasn’t forced out of my comfort zone.

Adverse conditions combined with me embracing colour, has hopefully changed these images from salient to poetic.


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    This is a kind of magic land that few of us will ever get to see. Meaning few of us will ever see such a magic land – this or any other one.

    As for B&W – while I do understand your passion for it, Lani (and Pascal’s too of course – LOL), I spent half a century focussed on B&W images, and with the advent of digital, as many long suffering readers of DS have already been told, I turned my attention to colour.

    I decided that this was appropriate, even if it meant abandoning B&, because I’ve already lived most of my life and I thought I should do something “different” during the remainder of my time here.

    And the key was the fact digi brought with it the ability for anyone to do post processing of colour photos in their own home – on their desk, if they’ve got one, or the kitchen table (while everyone else eats on the floor – no – maybe that’s wrong – in front of the TV, elsewhere in the home, maybe).

    And one of the first “bad” things I ran into was people who’d never tried anything else BUT colour. They had no comprehension of the importance of tonal values in a photograph, because everything was different colours, OK? But to me at least, it was NOT OK – it was awful. Colour, yes – but flat and dull, because the colour intensity was the same, the tonal range constant across the image. No highlights or shadows – or nowhere near enough to create a “photograph”, rather than a snapshot.

    None of which applies to yours, of course! Brilliant – original – stimulating – captivating.

    They bring to mind only one other set of photos that I’ve seen, in all those years – a strange place in the centre of Australia, a hundred feet (AKA 30 metres) below sea level – and two pros had come back with a selection of photos they’d taken there, which completely blew me away – 12 photos, and I told the curator that if I’d been asked which was the best of them, I would have had to award 6 of them equal first prize.

    Maybe you should enter these photos in a competition, and see if you can achieve a similar result!

    • Lani Edwards says:

      Thanks Pete!

      My first love will always be black and white but it is fun to explore saturated colour, I have to admit.
      And seeing that I have the attention span of a gnat, I have to be challenged to ‘keep the magic alive’…..even if that is from my basement desk breathing canned air, while dreaming of riding a unicorn bareback.

      Happy days!

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Namaste. A wonderful series of sensuous feminine abstracts capturing light ,shadow and form in soft pastels. I was going to use the ‘y’ word but since this is a family channel and a woke world we live in perhaps discretion is the better part of valour.

    Welcome to our erotic colourful subdued saturated wonderland visitor from the barren monochrome world. How does it feel to discard your security blanket ?

    • Lani Edwards says:

      No thanks to you, the water is balmy in colour-world.

      Barren monochrome? Wow. I would think that a b&w image has, if not more, sensory impact that an oversaturated colour one. Most of the time. For me anyway.

      Thank goodness we all have alternate ways of seeing the world.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Welcome to DS, Lani! And thanks for sharing your lovely images of Antelope Canyon. I was lucky to get into lower Antelope Canyon with a small group few years ago when prices weren’t astronomical, as you said. It’s a challenging place to photograph at the best of times, and it’s hard to produce anything other than standard shots. You have certainly achieved something special with these lyrically sinuous images. Kudos!

  • JohnW says:

    Lani – Welcome to our little menagerie of photographic misfits, malcontents and subversives. As I’ve known to say … my camera shoots colour, I shoot B&W (occasionally colour) so I understand where you’re coming from.

    In the words of the Great Ernst Haas … “I’m not interested in seeing new things in old ways, but I am interested in seeing old things in new ways (para)”. Slot canyons have been photographed ad nausium, but by transcending adversity and annoyance you’ve produced a collection of images that’s several quantum leaps beyond the “my interpretation of Antelope Canyon” gang. To say they are stunning would be to say “water is wet”. To echo JP, they are all Gold.

    Well Done!! I Bow To You My Lady.

    • Lani Edwards says:

      “photographic misfits, malcontents and subversives”
      That’s my people!!!

      Thank you very much for your flattering words, John. And thank you for the warm welcome.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Phantastically Lovely photos!
    I find no words…

    By accident I was listening to a suite from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet on Swedish radio as I opened your post, and I choose words from the music: dynamics, surprises, melodies, contrasts…
    Somehow the music and your photos melded and enhanced each other!

    Thank you for sharing them!

    > “…forced me to change my plan…”
    Yes, that does often (and here it did greatly…) free spontaneous creativity!

    • Lani Edwards says:

      Many thanks Kristian and I’m so delighted the images enriched your listening pleasure.
      An almost complete sensory experience – what a compliment!

      Spontaneous creativity? Let’s call it that rather than having no plan most of the time 😉

    • JohnW says:

      Christian – years ago in another life, I had a girlfriend who played flute in a local orchestra. I only ever attended one concert and the main event was … Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliette. I can still hear the “Match of the Nobles” playing in my head.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Yes, that’s an impressive part.
        ( As I’ve only heard the music and never seen a performance, I had to use Youtube to find what part you mean – Dance of the Knights, right?)
        Aah, those nemories of music coupled to some other strong memory!

        One of mine is an exceptional sunset over the mountains in Wales with the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth on the car radio. I was ten and my parents and I spent a long holiday traipsing over the south of England with a small caravan.

        I was reminded of it by Lani’s lovely colours!

  • Sean says:

    Hi Lani,
    You certainly know how to expertly make use of you photon catcher and convert them into awe inspiring coloured images, for a viewer to contemplate and appreciate; when they haven’t the opportunity to be placed in this magical location that you’ve sourced your images from. Well done.

    • Lani Edwards says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Sean 🙂
      I get lucky sometimes!

      • Sean says:

        Hi lani,
        Indeed you certainly have got lucky with this body of work. In a way, the images remind me of what it’d be like if we could take a Jules Verne type voyage (read ‘Voyage au centre de la Terre’) through ones circulatory system and visually record the experience – when coursing through and photographing inside the ventricles, arteries and arterioles, veins etc. If only, is the wish; but your images come close to visualising a record of that experience.

        • Lani Edwards says:

          Thank you…I think…
          Your circulatory journey is an accurate analogy, except for me, this was more an exploration of the earth’s inner workings as I imagined it to be.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    O.T.? Not quite.

    I just came across this quote:

    “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
    ( Eleanor Roosevelt )

    Isn’t it just right for us DearSusanists, for our photo-dreams?
    🙂 !

    ( Here’s another:
    “You see, there is a dream dreaming us.”,
    said by a man of the San people to Laurens van der Post.)
    – – * – –

    [ The first was quoted by a Greenlander in a program about their coping with adapting to climate warming.
    The second half of the program was about the problems of the Maldives, where – like in many other places – most islands are lower than one meter above sea level, sigh!]

  • Steve Mallett says:

    ‘kin ‘ell Lani! Wondrous stuff. In the first image I’m looking into the ear of a superhero (having a grandson who was six yesterday means superheroes are real in my world) and then I’m minded of the film Fantastic Voyage when everyone is shrunk and injected into the human body and they travel on a well, fantastic voyage, through veins and arteries and such. To say these images spark the imagination is an understatement. My musical accompaniment as I write happens to be Brian Eno’s Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks – perfect! Inner space, outer space, bareback unicorn riding. Yep, you fit right in! More please.


    • Lani Edwards says:

      You need ease up on your consumption of absinthe for a while 🙂

      The magical voyage is indeed something that I agree with – swishing and tumbling through the body’s (aka mother earth) roadmap.
      So pleased that you enjoyed the journey with me.

      Thank you, Steve!

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Hi Lani,

    “Monochromatic” color photos always deeply attracted me.
    And canyons too, since the old days of Michael Reichmann pictures.
    Yours are gorgeous; I had the word “sensual” in mind too, but then the first one called for a even deeper feeling… “voluptuous” 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing such beauty with our little crazy group 🙂

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