So, the first time I ever went to Death Valley was in July of 2002, and it was 120 degrees in the shade of Stove Pipe Wells General Store! So for this last trip in early September I was thinking to myself, the temperature must be a little better since it is later in the year!?! Well it was, it was 110 degrees in the shade at Stove Pipe Wells, and NO, 10 degrees made no difference! Looking past the heat, Death Valley is an amazingly beautiful place with countless places to capture images. I drove up from Las Vegas and into Death Valley via HWY 190. This takes you through Death Valley Junction, past Zabriskie Point, The Harmony Borox Works and many other great places to stop for images.
I had limited time in Death valley, 1 sunset and 1 sunrise, so my goal was to capture images in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes for both. I was hoping to get some dramatic images of the dunes and their curving lines and strong shadows caused by the setting sun. Instead, a weather front was on it's way in and the wind started to pick up, creating a small sand storm within the dunes. With fine particles of sand flying everywhere and covering myself and my gear, I thought sunset was going to be a bust! It turned out to be the complete opposite, the diffusion of the sunlight in the swirling sand created an amazing golden/orange color to the light, you can see image 1 below. The data for this image is: ISO 200, F/22, 1/30th @ 300mm and shot with the Tamron SP 70-300mm Di VC USD hand Held.
Now onto sunrise and praying for a little less blowing sand. During the night it had rained a bit and the winds had calmed, leaving me with perfect shooting conditions. I started to hike into the dunes as the sun began to rise and the sky was turning into a rainbow of colors! I stopped part of the way in and captured image #2. What caught my eye was the layered colors of the soft pink sand against the blue mountains against the yellow sky. The data for this image: ISO 400, F/9, 1/15th @ 130mm using Tamron's 18-270mm VC PZD hand held.
The final image was taken only minutes later when I came across a dune that had nice ripples in the sand. This as my foreground combined with a very dramatic sky gave me the opportunity to shoot some wider angle images as well. I also positioned the top ridge as a leading line, coming in from the bottom left of the frame then extending out to the background. The data for this image: ISO 400, F/8, 1/10th, 30mm using Tamron's 18-270mm VC PZD hand held.