Evening Dress – In a Desert Cave
July 23, 2017
For our last shoot of the season, Niza suggested shooting at a landmark on the outskirts of La Paz called “La Calavera”. The name means “skull” and there are a number of ancient legends about the rock outcropping to the east side of La Paz. The name might simply be though from the look of the steeply rising hill almost on the waterfront. The intent had been to shoot from the summit of the hill, which has a commanding view over La Paz bay. However, that looks best at sunset when the setting sun provides a great backdrop. This shoot ended up being almost a high noon, a deadly time to shoot beauty in a rock strewn landscape with no supplemental lighting.
La Calavera, though, has another side to it – the caves that dot its cliff face, way up in the air. They have fantastic shapes, presumably carved by water or sand at some time in the past. And being caves, they are shielded from the glaring sun for the most part at noon, providing a luminous light inside. Another attribute we soon discovered is that the sea breeze funnels though the caverns in interesting ways, providing a unique “windblown” look when you want it! One downside of so many neat locations though – tagging graffiti everywhere. A harsh and ugly contrast to the raw beauty of the environment. I do not understand the mind of someone who wants to mark their presence on every element of beautiful nature. Disturbing to see, completely antithetical to almost any theme, and a true pain to edit out of almost every photo, even with careful placing and framing.
The climb up to the caves was challenging, to say the least. Fortunately Niza has worked with me enough times to know not to just bring “tacones” (high heels) to the shoot, but to expect to have to cross rugged terrain to get to the shoot location. Some models still think high heels are good for a beach shoot.. I can assure you they are NOT. Unless the objective is humour ….
So what did we shoot? Well, what would one shoot in a raw alien desert setting? Why glamorous evening gowns, in jewel tones, of course…
Much was done using the luminous bounced light in the surface caves, contrasting the formal gowns with the smoothness of the rock shapes and the warmth of the colours. We had fun with the natural wind machine and Niza’s long hair. We also ventured outside the caves, onto the rock ledges overlooking the Sea of Cortez, dealing with the intense light, and backlit imagery on the hillside that provides the pathway into the caves.
Here are some of my favorites from the session. Enjoy!