Bonneville Salt Flats Photo Session

September 16, 2016

 Pentax K-3/ Tamron SP AF 10-24 ISO 200 15mm f/8 1/250

 

     If you live in Utah, you have probably driven past the Bonneville Salt Flats just east of Wendover. I know that I have. In fact, many times but every time it has been in a hurry to get as far away from the bland and endless stretches of road between Reno and Wendover. One of my least favorite drives, I am always in way too much of a hurry to even consider getting out of my car at the rest stop ten miles east of the glaring, neon lights of Wendover's smoky casinos and stepping out of my car when a hundred and thirty miles farther, I could be pulling into my driveway. The Bonneville Salt Flats were just not a place I cared much to see. The key word there is "flats". When have I ever cared much for flat places, especially places that just seem desolate and barren? So, when I was first asked to take some family photos out there, I could think of nothing less appealing. However, after a little bit of internet stalking of other Salt Flat portraits and some research on the geology of the area, I barely could wait to get myself out to this bizarre and other-worldly place.

 

 Pentax K-1/ HD Pentax D FA 70-200 ISO 200 0.7 ev f2.8 1/250  filtered

 

     There is a beautiful Greek word that cannot be translated into any other language. Kairos is "The perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words or movement."

     On the day of this shoot, the weather was bright and sunny in Salt Lake but as I traveled farther west along 1-80, dark rain clouds began to fill and scatter across the distant horizon. The possibility of rain made me slightly nervous but the broken clouds filled me with excitement. An evening shoot without movement in the sky changes the dynamics of our western desert sunsets and I knew that these clouds were going to provide the perfect atmosphere. The endless white salt combined with distant mountains, passing storm clouds, beautiful people and fading light set the stage for a wondrous natural light box and perfect Kairos. No other word can describe what happened on this evening.

 

 Pentax K-1/ HD Pentax D FA 70-200 88mm 1 ev f/5.6 1/160 filtered

 

     The salt flats are an immensely complicated system that no one fully understands, yet we do know that this place is declining in health and size. In fact, several speed races were cancelled this year due to lack of room and thin salt crusts. Wether it is caused by too much water and evaporation, salt mining or other factors, event organizers are on the forefront of trying to help solve and revive the flats. Why? There just is no other place like it. The Bonneville Salt Flats are the fastest speed track on earth and our incredibly, quirky planet created it along with a little help from above. When conditions are right, the flats are thick and solid and cars can race for miles and miles and hit speeds of 300-400 miles per hour! Amazingly, the salt flats are so forgiving that a rainstorm or season later, it is as if they are completely virgin and untouched. For visitors and photographers, of course, this place offers a strange and extrinsic experience that they will never forget. 

 

Pentax K-1/ HD Pentax D FA 70-200 95mm 1ev f2.8 1/600 filtered

 

     Shooting photos at such a delicate and unique place was a thrill and something that I look forward to doing again and again. I do not doubt that as the seasons change and the water table rises to cover the crusts with thin pools of glistening water that each experience will be in and of itself something special and uncommon.

 

Pentax K-1/ smc FA 50mm 1.4 ISO 400 50mm 1ev f7.1 1/25

 

     While I would never include all of the photos from this particular session (500 gorgeous and spectacular and all so utterly different), please enjoy the ones that I leave here on this page. They just make me so happy. 

 

 

 

 

 

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