Death Valley National Park. One of the hottest and most desolate places on earth. Intense heat, boiling sun, fire hot sand. Be prepared if you go. But go you must. The desert sand and rock formations and their impossible colors are worth the effort. This is Mesquite Dunes, a large sand dunes field near Stovepipe Wells. Be careful where you walk so you don't leave footprints that might wreck your photo.
The desert colors come alive at evening golden hour looking across the Mesquite Dunes toward the distant mountains. When the sun is high in the sky, the color become drab and almost hostile. You must take plenty of water with you, even on short treks.
Some scenes because of their contrast lead very nicely toward black and white processing. Death Valley's Mesquite Dunes often fits the bill for black and whites.
Later in the Golden Hour the shadows start to dominate the scene. Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley National Park is incredibly contrasty during the Golden Hour. Black and white seems so appropriate.
The lowest point in North America--282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is foreboding yet so alluring. Repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes.
The white salt in Badwater Basin turns blue in the early evening light. The formations are caused by repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles that gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes. Badwater Basin is the lowest spot in North America with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level.
The Galactic Center of the Milky Way rises over Death Valley. (Of course the Milky Way does not rise, the Earth rotates causing it to appear as if the Milky Way rises.) Light pollution is from Las Vegas which is over 100 miles away!
On the road to Aguereberry Point which overlooks Badwater Basin. When the sun sets Death Valley really becomes ominous. There are few if any distinctive landmarks and no trails so it is very easy to get lost. Use a GPS unit or leave you fog lights on or put a glow stick on your antenna. Do not rely on your dead reckoning.
Early morning light warms to rocks at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley. Black and white compositional studies can be done during the middle of the day in Death Valley, but the colors of the rock formations are washed out by the harsh light. Sunrise or sunset are the times to get color like this.
This is the desert? This is Death Valley? Yes, indeed. These beautiful colors come alive at sunrise and sunset when the sun is low to the horizon. The light is softer than the harsh mid-day light which washes out the color.
Wind and water have formed impossible rock formations at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, which is a short walk from the parking lot. Get there early to capture the morning light. In the background is the basin leading to Badwater.
Sunrise leads to the colors of Zabriskie Point coming out to play on your eyes. The color lasts only a few minutes before the sun's light becomes so harsh that the colors become muted and washed out.
Sunset in the desert. Beautiful shadows play on Mesquite Dunes. Go at sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic light. Be careful at sunset...it gets very dark very quickly and it is easy to get disoriented. Take plenty of water.
A feather cloud floats over distant mountains. Those mountains are several miles away. The flat terrain would lead on to believe that a trek to the mountain's base would be easy. However open desert will suck water from your body at an alarming rate and the sandy terrain is very difficult to walk on. Know your limitations.
The 2 O'clock sun blasts the desert floor. So beautiful, yet so dangerous. The temperature in Death Valley tops 120F many days of the year. Be cautious, be sensible. Live to see tomorrow. I don't want to scare you from going to Death Valley. Its beauty should not be missed. But precautions must be taken to ensure your safety,
The Racetrack, where rocks slide on the desert playa. No joke. The rocks move, some several hundred feet, leaving tracks. So how is this possible? It wasn't until just a couple of years ago that the mystery was solved. When ice forms on the playa the strong desert winds set the rocks sailing across the landscape. Obviously a few inches at a time!
A Racetrack rock comes to greet me, or so it appears. Actually rocks slide on the desert playa when ice forms on the desert floor and strong winds inch the rocks along their mysterious paths.
All around you in Death Valley are beautiful rock formations. You would never believe the desert could have such varied colors. This panorama highlights the layers of color in Death Valley.