Land(and technique) of the Lost

Yes, I’ve posted these images before.
I’m posting them again because I had, for the most part, forgotten about them. I made these images back in 2006 but in some ways it feels like I made them a hundred years ago. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact I think they are some of the most interesting landscape style images I’ve made, but the simple truth is I’m perpetually moving fast. I started this project on the North Shore back in 1998. I’d made many trips to the area and spent most of my time covering the surf culture. After a few years of returning to the same place I began to see strange patterns. I began to notice the number of people who would descend on the area, mostly tourists, and would USE the area as a type of decompression from their lives, and stresses, back home. These people all used the same exact area.

The term “salt line” describes the exact point where you smell the ocean before you see it. The “salt line” is very real and historically has had a powerful impact on the cultures that reside just past this invisible line. Suddenly I was intrigued by the Hawaiian salt line. I knew I wanted to try and capture this place, and it’s effects on people, but I also knew I needed a new technique. My goal was to create a charcoal sketch, a photographic charcoal sketch, one that showed motion and emotion. The problem was I didn’t know how to do this. So, I began to experiment and came up with the technique you see here.

I posted these images again because I really like this technique.
When I finally figured out how to do this I thought, “Oh, this is going to be a big part of my future,” and yet all these years later I can remember ONE time where I deployed this style. I find this really strange. So much gets lost because of how fast I’m moving through the world. I would have never thought that this technique, or these images, would get lost in the shuffle of life but they really have. Now I sit here, once again, thinking “Okay, this is how I’m going to use medium format on my New Mexico project” and yet my bags are packed for a return trip and this camera isn’t with me. I’m not sure what the answer is here, or even the question, but perhaps it pertains to choices, or having to many. Perhaps it’s about critical thought and solitude of mind?

19 responses to “Land(and technique) of the Lost”

  1. Mark Olwick says:

    I absolutely love these images, Dan. Thanks for sharing them again. Care to elaborate on the technique?


    • Smogranch says:


      Glad you like them. Hasselblad, Tri-x, tripod, 9-story neutral density filter and multiple camera movements. LOW percentage of images that work, but that is the idea.

  2. Beautiful aesthetic! Would love to know how you went about it.

    • Smogranch says:


      Basically…..Hasselblad, Tri-x, tripod, 9-story neutral density filter and multiple camera movements. LOW percentage of images that work, but that is the idea.

  3. zenowatson says:

    There is a really a strong spirit in all three of the images.

    It is important at time to look back on your past, in order to know where you are going, cliché but true.

    Have a great weekend Dan


  4. alison says:

    I can hardly believe these images are photographs. Especially the first one. The first one “is” charcoal ! I use charcoal in my work all the time and I could`nt tell the difference,really!

    Just makes me realise the possibilities . I think I have a very limited view of what photography is at the moment……..

    Dan , do you think its necessary to go to college to become a photographer ? I mean to become technically good enough to have some sort of career out of it,To be proffessional?

    • Smogranch says:


      Thanks for saying that. The first image is my favorite for sure. Photography can be just about anything. I’m a big an of studying photography, but not for technical reasons. You can learn the tech stuff very quickly and frankly it isn’t that important. FAR, FAR, FAR too much of the professional world is focused on technique and technology, which is BORING. Photography school is as much about what you do outside of your photography classes than it is about studying actual photography. School teaches you about history, about what has been done, and what hasn’t. It teaches you to think critically about your work, and the work of your peers, and teaches you how to talk about your work.

    • Alison says:

      Thank you Dan ,thats really helpful . I love all art forms and Ive always made and created stuff ever since I was a child . I have always had a thing that school wasnt necessary if you had talent. I get what your saying though .It `s difficult to critque yourself objectively to understand ,really look at yourself. I have a chance to go to do a course this time I think I will grasp the opportunity…. scary ! ……….Thank you for your help !

    • Smogranch says:


      Sure, no harm in taking a class or two and see if it works for you.

  5. LionelB says:

    They have a dream quality to them. Woodcuts. Photogravure would suit them perfectly. Maybe time to discover a new printing technique ? That could be the key to unlocking them.

    • Smogranch says:


      Really good point about the print style. Not sure about that yet. Have printed them straight silver.

    • LionelB says:

      Photogravure lays down ink of differing thicknesses so it is not like dither or grain. It is physically deeper. It frees up interesting paper choices and prints lend themselves more to numbering. An endangered craft skill. Fox Talbot started with photogravure. Slow is good …

    • Smogranch says:

      Good points….I’d love to learn.

  6. Agree with Lionel. Images from a dream. Brilliant stuff. World rotates too quickly at the times, the things that work and matter sometime rush by.

  7. Maarten says:

    Great images Daniel! Especially the charcoal look is beautiful. I think they’d look great as 2×2 meter prints (or maybe even bigger, as mural painter I like big:)).

    • Smogranch says:


      I would LOVE to see a print of the first one that size. I’ve printed that 15×15 and it looks good, but MASSIVE could be interesting.

  8. The More I look at the first image the more I like. Great shot!

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