Radeka Photography

Moon Over Zabriskie Point, 1980. Death Valley National Park, CA


I took this photograph shortly after sunrise with a Schneider 210mm Symmar lens using 4x5 Kodak Tri-X film. The negative was developed in Kodak HC-110 developer to normal contrast. I waited until the sunlight almost fully bathed the Panamint Mountains. The entire foreground was not yet touched by the morning light. Within seconds after making the exposure, the clouds covered the moon making it nearly invisible. Fortunately, the only negative I exposed contains all the necessary information to achieve an excellent print. Because of the inherent brightness of the sky compared to the foreground area, I give the entire sky area of the print a substantial amount of burning in order to darken it to the degree necessary to obtain a well-balanced image. The burning is done just to the point of bringing out the mood of the scene which to me represents a relationship between the moon and the "lunar-like" landscape of the foreground mudhills. In order to enhance the liveliness of the foreground mudhills, a shadow contrast increase mask (SCIM) was used to richen the local contrast of the foreground area. The use of this mask requires perfect pin-registration on the enlarger. In addition, the Panamint Mountains received a considerable amount of localized bleaching with my version of a highlight brightening ferricyanide formula in order to brighten the mountain range and increase the local highlight contrast. I also used a fog mask to gently soften the contrast along most of the edges of the print and give a more graceful appearance to the sky. The difference between a straight print made from this negative and my final expressive print is substantial.

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