Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Death Valley on Our Minds

©Bert Gildart: This past month has seen my images featured in a number of books and magazines. Two images may be appeal to those interested in one of Death Valley’s more famous characters, and in the creative use of Lightroom. I’m also posting these two as right about now, Janie and I would both like to be in Death Valley, away from this temperamental Montana weather that sees one day raining the next day snowing.

The two images are of Marta Becket and her work, something most everyone who lives in and around Death Valley knows a little something about.

Marta came to this remote part of the country in 1967 when she was in her early 40s but why she settled in this remote area is a mystery. Specifically, the area is known as Death Valley Junction, and it’s a place where the wind can howl and companions are most likely to be kangaroo rats.


Amargosa Opera House

An acquaintance believes that she had some kind of an epiphany. She and her husband had a flat tire, but she apparently saw something in the old adobe structure that no one else saw.


With the vision of creating a dance performance Marta Becket began making presentations. At first few attended, but because she wanted to feel as though she had an audience, she told me that she painted the murals.

Marta Becket-7

Marta Becket

As you can see, she is an incredible artist recognized by a number of Hollywood celebrities, many who have purchased her individual paintings. As well, her dance performances eventually began to attract an international audience. For more about her work see Marta One and Marta Two.


Photographing the interior of Marta’s auditorium was a challenge, and without Lightroom and some knowledge about photography in general it would have been difficult.

Because illumination was so very low, I place the camera on a tripod and made a long exposure. That enabled me to provide a proper exposure for the paintings, but the beams of light were very much overexposed.

I took care of that problem using a component of Lightroom to precisely dim the point sources of light. Then I used the program’s exceptional Noise Reduction feature to reduce the bleeding of colors that sometimes occurs from long time exposures – or from images made with a high ISO.

For the image of Marta, I used two strobes, with Janie holding the main light off to the side. I backed off on the light output from the on-camera strobe by 1/3 of an f-stop. Both strobes were Nikon SB800s.

It’s fun for us to review published images, particularly when they evoke memories of clear skies and much warmth. But we’re here, essentially because it provides a good environment to finish a book I’m contractually obligated to complete about Glacier National Park, a favorite place most months of the year.



*Death Valley & Challenge for Photographers


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