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Some Death Valley by moonlight

The last few images I have from Death Valley this January are some pictures by full moonlight. The first few were taken in Panamint Valley where I stopped on my way to check out the large amount of water that had gathered there from recent rains. Here at about 10:30 or so at night there was not a single sound to be heard except for the occasional car. When a car did come by, either via route 178 or 190 I could hear it approaching from miles and miles away. In fact the sound of a car here at this spot sounded strange as it echoed in the desolate valley around me. When no cars were around I relished the silence as not even a plane could be heard or seen overhead.

The road to Death Valley by moonlight

The road to Death Valley by moonlight

Here we see the view from the middle of 190 looking towards Towne Pass.

The west side of Telescope Peak via moonlight

The west side of Telescope Peak via moonlight

Argus Range peaks - probably Maturango Peak and Parkinson Peak via moonlight

Argus Range peaks - probably Maturango Peak and Parkinson Peak via moonlight

I picked up a similar view of these peaks on my way out of the park in the afternoon light.

Argus Range peaks - probably Maturango Peak and Parkinson Peak via daylight

Argus Range peaks - probably Maturango Peak and Parkinson Peak via daylight

Looking north towards Panamint Dunes and beyond

Looking north towards Panamint Dunes and beyond

These next few pictures were taken at Badwater Basin from the road. Badwater is the lowest place in North America at 282 feet below sea level. I was scouting to see if I could see water for a return trip in the morning. I was quite tired and did not want to hike out a mile into the basin to see so I took a few captures from the side of the road to see what could be seen. I concluded that there wasn’t much of any water if any (contrary to expectations). Upon looking at the full 21mp pictures however, I can see what might be water in one of the pictures, but alas we never hiked out there to be sure.

Badwater Basin via moonlight

Badwater Basin via moonlight

Badwater Basin and the Panamints via moonlight

Badwater Basin and the Panamints via moonlight

Finally, a recent trip back into the Death Valley archives yielded this picture, which I like quite a lot and somehow did not choose before. This is from the Mesquite Dunes. The thick haze was from a sandstorm that was raging on the western end of the dunes. Fortunately where we were the wind was much more calm.

Sunset in a sandstorm

Sunset in a sandstorm

Death Valley – Sunrise 1/31/10

For the final magic hour shoot of the trip, we headed back to the previous morning’s location to once again go after reflections in the morning light. While the sky did not give us dramatic clouds this time, I did walk away with some nice images albeit with some saltwater-soaked hiking boots.

Pre-dawn symmetry

Pre-dawn symmetry

Pre-dawn glow

Pre-dawn glow

Soft colors warming the sky to the north

Soft colors warming the sky to the north

Cottonwood Mountains symmetry

Cottonwood Mountains symmetry

Setting moon, Panamints, Cottonwoods and reflections

Setting moon, Panamints, Cottonwoods and reflections

Setting moon, Panamints, Cottonwoods and reflections a little later

Setting moon, Panamints, Cottonwoods and reflections a little later

Direct sunlight creeping down the northern end of the Panamints as the moon sets

Direct sunlight creeping down the northern end of the Panamints as the moon sets

Greyscale reflections

Greyscale reflections

Reflected world

Reflected world

Telescope Peak and the Panamints showing off their snowcaps

Telescope Peak and the Panamints showing off their snowcaps

A watery view of Death Valley

A watery view of Death Valley

Dawn's early light in Death Valley

Dawn's early light in Death Valley

These next few images were taken as I left Death Valley and made a few stops along the way when I felt inspired. First up is a shot going up Towne Pass west of Stovepipe Wells on the way out. I wanted to capture the sun halo that was visible through the high clouds around the sun.

Sun Halo over Pinto Peak in Towne Pass

Sun Halo over Pinto Peak in Towne Pass

Coming down from the pass, I was struck by what appeared to be an optical illusion. It’s as if the high Sierra Nevada mountains were submerged below a great blue ocean on the other side of the Argus Range. It was very strange to me and I felt compelled to stop and take a picture.

Seemingly a blue ocean is held back by the Argus Range

Seemingly a blue ocean is held back by the Argus Range

Finally on the edge of the Darwin Falls Wilderness there was a decent helping of snow on the ground around some Joshua Trees. I took many shots to try and capture what i felt but in the end I only was happy with this shot of some trees on a nearby ridge.

Joshua Trees in the snow

Joshua Trees in the snow

One last post from Death Valley is yet to come with just a few moonlight shots. This was a fantastic trip which produced many great images. More importantly, getting out in the wilderness was good for the soul.

Death Valley – Sunset 1/30/10

Having scouted out the location earlier in the day, we returned for a spectacular sunset. Once the sun descended beyond the Panamint Range, the light began to get interesting.

Shadow Reflections

Shadow Reflections

Salty water and the Black Mountains

Salty water and the Black Mountains

The shadow of the Panamint Range creeps up the Black Mountains

The shadow of the Panamint Range creeps up the Black Mountains

Looking south towards Badwater in beautiful magic hour light

Looking south towards Badwater in beautiful magic hour light

More Black Mountain reflections

More Black Mountain reflections

A look towards Dante's View, covered with snow and ice

A look towards Dante's View, covered with snow and ice

Salty patterns

Salty patterns

Saltwater surface patterns resemble ice

Saltwater surface patterns resemble ice

Reflected colors coming alive

Reflected colors coming alive

Salt Creek really lighting up

Salt Creek really lighting up

Salty encrustations break up the reflected sunset

Salty encrustations break up the reflected sunset

The light really exploded at the end in a symphony of red and pink.

Magical light in Death Valley

Magical light in Death Valley

Magical light reflected in the saltwater

Magical light reflected in the saltwater

Twilight begins to fade at Salt Creek

Twilight begins to fade at Salt Creek

Before departing I turned the camera towards the symmetrical reflection of Telescope Peak after all the red had faded in the sunset.

Telescope Peak symmetry

Telescope Peak symmetry

This was a fantastic conclusion to the first day of my first visit to Death Valley in over a year. I slept soundly knowing that amazing images would await me the following morning as well as we returned to the same place we started with.

February 18, 2010 - 8:38 am

Qwiz - These are great! Thanks for sharing.

Death Valley – Location Scouting 1/30/10

After the morning shoot and after breakfast, friend and fellow photographer Robert Mance and I headed out in search of more water for sunset. We decided to head down towards Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. Instead of going to the main parking lot area, we headed down the West Side Road to see what could be found on the west side of the basin, where neither of us had ever been before.

Here are some pictures from what we found.

Telescope Peak from the West Side Road

Telescope Peak from the West Side Road

The closest I’ve been yet to Telescope Peak.

Cracked Mud Pattern

Cracked Mud Pattern

This group of cracked mud caught my eye.

The seemingly endless Devil's Golf Course

The seemingly endless Devil's Golf Course

Water along the road

Water along the road

This patch of water was quite large. In fact according to my GPS it is part of Salt Creek, although the water is way too salty here to support the Death Valley Pupfish. A strange car load of people stopped and asked Robert if we saw any fish here. The main Salt Creek area was closed due to muddy roads although you could still get there on foot if you were willing to hike a few extra miles. Anyway, we were pleased with this location and decided to head back for Sunset.

Salty patterns and water

Salty patterns and water

Big blue sky and water in Death Valley

Big blue sky and water in Death Valley

Looking south towards Badwater

Looking south towards Badwater

The next update will feature pictures from an amazing sunset in Death Valley unlike any other I’ve seen.

February 5, 2010 - 8:55 am

Robert Mance - What an awesome ‘side trip’ that turned out to be huh! Great pics. I’m emailing you some photos of you shooting Death Valley. Keep an eye out for’em.

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