"Take only photographs, leave only footprints." Hamish Fulton

Little Finland - Hobgoblins, Nevada
Little Finland - Hobgoblins, Nevada

Rare are the moments when light seems to settle and gently caress the material world. Chance or opportunity - an encounter between the photographer and his subjet.


The use of the photographic medium (view camera) is certainly the noblest of ways to bear witness to the different elements and details of a landscape. It gives the photographer the possibility of becoming a part of the scenery during the different phases of camera adjustment. A photographer takes photographs according to the rhythms of light, not the rhythm of time. The format of the rendered image (from 4x5 inch to 8x10 inch) reveals all the details of the image clearly and precisely.

The photographic medium enables several different adjustments (movements), the main ones being: decentration and the Scheimpflug principle (law of conjugate planes). In the context of this specific case, decentration and forward tilt of the camera were used in order to frame the subject as desired.

Equipment used : - Linhof Master Technika
  - Optic Schneider Apo Symmar 5.6 / 120 mm
  - Minolta Meter IV F
  - Sheet Film Fuji Velvia RVP

Welcome to Hell

I came to photograph the earth - instead, I photographed its soul !

This is the third consecutive day that I've visited Hobgoblins (Nevada, USA) in order to photograph the last few minutes of sunset. There is no site like this in the world, inhabited by the ghosts of creatures from another time - flying elephants, raptors, dinosaurs and marine monsters.

Half an hour before sunset, I begin to take the first shots with my view camera. It's the ideal format for rendering the wealth of the details displayed in these unique rock formations.

For the moment, everything is going well, and a number of frames have already seen the light in the frame of my view camera. The rocks are tinted with beautiful yellows, and the oblique light lends relief to the landscape.

Just as the sun has disappeared beyond the horizon, clouds begin to form high in the freezing air. At this moment, I'm still a long way from suspecting that in no more than twenty minutes, I'll be looking into the bowels of Hell !

But already, the premonitions are there. In the earth beneath my feet, I can feel the heat accumulated during the day. Little by little, despite the fact the sun has been invisible for five minutes, the rock has taken on new colours. The earth breathes ever more deeply, and from its depths comes a heavy groan.

In the sky, the intensity of light is changing constantly, as if it were reflecting the struggle as the growing cold fights to muffle the growls from the warm earth. It's the beginning of a terrible duel.

Quickly, I move a few meters to find a new angle. On the horizon, a full moon is rising, powerful and beautiful.

So this is what Hell looks like! Magma has risen from the depths of the earth and is flowing through the rocks - like blood flowing around my feet.

Then everything stops… the sky, the earth and the moon are in perfect harmony. I place the plate in the back of the camera, press the shutter,and close my eyes in order to melt into the scene.

In a fraction of a second, I've just photographed its soul !

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the earth swallows its rage, and the desert of Hobgoblins once again finds serenity.

October 2008
Translated by Pete Kimberley