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05.28.2012

Eye Scene: Photographer, Ryuichi Oshimoto Travels with Sigma Camera & Lenses

The setting sun creates a dramatic world of light and dark at Golden Canyon in Death Valley National Park. Fascinated by the layers of history in the rocks, I pressed the shutter using the large aperture standard lens. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/100 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 50mm

Leaving the mineral refining plant in Trona and heading north, I notice a group of broken RVs in a fenced area. In my eyes I see damaged junk, but for others they may see this as a treasure chest.

The rusty iron chain on the fence seemed to store something valuable. Snapping a shot with a light finger, the sensor faithfully captured the dry desert air and the smell of rust. Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/160 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 16.6mm

I took Trona Wildrose Road from Trona and drove north for 14 miles. The road ascended through Slate Range Crossing and then opened up to the vast plain of Panamint Valley.

I overlook Panamint Valley (65 miles in length and 10 miles across) from the pass. It was a vast landscape everywhere I looked and the feeling of plunging into this vast landscape seeps into my emotion. Camera: SD1 Lens: 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 II DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 14mm

After going down the pass and driving for a bit, I see a stone sign that read, “Ghost town, Ballarat- 3/5 miles.” From a paved road, I entered a dirt road (Ballarat Road) and headed it east. Between 1897 and 1917, Ballarat was a prosperous mining town with 400 to 500 residents. When I arrived, there were a few RVs parked in the area. A middle-aged man was changing into shorts and his wife was sitting next to him, reading a book. When I first stepped foot onto Panamint Valley, I remembered I had mistaken it for Death Valley.

Hiding behind the shadows of the jailhouse built in 1898, I look in the direction of the Panamint Valley. Changing to monochrome, I ponder about the flourishing town from 100 years ago. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm

Taken from inside the jailhouse. The sepia color emphasized the warmth of the wood. Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 18mm

There were no birds, but the birdhouse had strong presence among the weathered ghost town. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 85mm

Under the eaves of the closed market, the dog barks to establish its presence. It saw me, but didn’t seemed concerned. Camera: SD1 Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/800 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 85mm

An old car engine, an immobile truck, a house from a century ago. This was the view of present day ghost town of Ballarat. Increasing the contrast and saturation, the presence of the decayed objects were emphasized. Camera: SD1 Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/640 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 50mm

The road continued further through the ghost town, so I proceeded on the gradual pebble road for ten minutes. The small pebbles turned into larger stones and it was no longer possible for a sedan to drive through. There was no room to turn around, so depending on my rear-view and side mirrors, I backed out slowly to the ghost town. The thought of spending the rest of the day at my own pace and staying overnight in the ghost town seemed like a good idea, but I drove back on Trona Wildrose Road and headed north. The large sign indicated that heading straight on Trona Wildrose Road leads to Death Valley, as well as State Road 190. Since I have taken State Road 190 before, I decided to take Trona Wildrose Road. The road gradually became rough and I enter Death Valley National Park. The dirtroad narrowed and I felt an adventure starting.

The paved road deteriorated and eventually turned into a dirt road. With little traffic, it seemed like a road leading to a wild adventure. Camera: DP2x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/200 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 24.2mm

The road connecting the campsite, Wildrose, became wavy. I parked the car on the shoulder and used the fisheye lens to capture the expansive landscape. Camera: SD1 Lens: 10mm F2.8 EX DC FISHEYE HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 10mm

In one drive, I went through a narrow dirt road, then a wavy one and a long straight road. Camera: SD1 Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/640 sec,Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 168mm

Heading further north, I saw a sign pointing to Aguereberry Point and further down the road was Eureka Mine. There was once a town named Harrisburg, populated with 300 residents. In 1905, two men, Shorty Harris and Pete Aguereberry found gold here. The town was supposed to be named Harrisberry, but Harris took the credit of discovering the gold and officially named the town Harrisburg. However other mines were discovered and many left Harrisburg. From 1909 to 1930, Aguereberry operated the mine and lived on the same land until his death in 1945.

The remnants of Cashier Mill on the southern slopes of the hill. Aguereberry occupied the north and Harris occupied the south. Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 18mm

The remains of a gold mine. One ton of material was appraised up to $500. The mine was closed off during the winter due to bats hibernating. Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec,Aperture: f9.0, Focal length: 39mm

I wondered how much gold was carried on these tracks. I imagine the period when gold was mined and using the large aperture telephoto macro lens, I focused on one section of the track. Camera: SD1 Lens: MACRO 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 105mm

I wondered how much gold was carried on these tracks. I imagine the period when gold was mined and using the large aperture telephoto macro lens, I focused on one section of the track. Camera: SD1 Lens: MACRO 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 105mm

I went to Aguereberry Point, where Pete often took miners. Pete read about the California gold rush since he was young and in 1890 when turned 16, he departed from France on a ship to America. In June of 1905, upon arriving in this area he almost lost his life due to the summer heat, but a month later he and Harris found gold together.

I drive through the dry dirt road with my windows down. Gripping the wheel with my left hand and the camera in my right, I pressed the shutter while the car was in motion. Camera: DP1x, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 16.6mm

I look back at the untamed guardrail-less road. A much different from seeing this view, driving on the road was a thrill ride. Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/500 sec, Aperture: f8.0, Focal length: 25mm

I view Death Valley from Aguereberry Point (6433 ft above sea level.) Aguereberry called this area the “The Great View of Death Valley.” The white area in the distance becomes one of the hottest places on earth. Camera: SD1 Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec,Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 8mm

After seeing Death Valley from a high elevation, I descended slowly passing the gold mines and headed northeast on State Road 190. When I arrive at Stovepipe Wells Village, I felt like I arrived at a national park. With the white sand dunes on my left, I pass Scottys Castle Road and the road takes a large right and heads toward the southeastern direction.

As I parked the car on the shoulder of State Road 190 and admiring the view, an elderly couple sped right through me. Using the large aperture telephoto zoom lens, I got a shot of the cyclists. Camera: SD1 Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 200mm

I picked up a map from the visitor center in Furnace Creek at the center of Death Valley National Park. I bought firewood at a nearby shop and set up a tent at Texas Springs campground. It was only three in the afternoon, but the there was not much light left in the day. I returned to State Road 190 and headed south on Badwater Road. I walk around Golden Canyon. It was only 4.5 miles away from the campsite, but the sunset felt longer than from the canyon.

It was a comfortable winter afternoon and there were many in light clothing at the beginning of Canyon Trails. The warm sunlight streaming into the canyon was depicted in monochrome. Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: monochrome, Shutter speed: 1/160 sec,Aperture: f6.3, Focal length: 53mm

I captured the valley with the super wide angle zoom lens. Camera: SD1 Lens: 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/80 sec, Aperture: f11.0, Focal length: 9mm

By the time I got back from the trail, the sun had set. I see Badwater Road from the parking lot of Golden Canyon Trail. Camera: SD1 Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/80 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 200mm

By the time I returned to the campsite, it was already dark. On this chilly night, I attempted to start a fire, but the firewood would not catch fire. After finishing up some beers and a light dinner, I washed the thick sunblock off my face and retired into the tent 6:30pm, waiting to fall asleep.

I set the tent up by the entrance of the campsite. I was supposed to enjoy some wine in front of a warm campfire, but… Camera: SD1 Lens: 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO: 200, White balance: daylight, Shutter speed: 1/8 sec,Aperture: f5.6, Focal length: 18mm

The stratum was often slanted here in Death Valley. The movement of the fault and fold creates the shape of the stratum. A major stratum ran across the campsite. I fell asleep easily on this windless and calm night

*All artwork on this page was processed from RAW data (X3F) with Sigma PhotoPro software. After processing, some selected images were imported into retouching software to remove dust. This photo essay is currently running on Sigma Japan’s site and it is published here two months later.

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