My friends keep reminding me that I haven’t updated my blog in a while so here goes with one update at least.
Way back in November, my hearty group of photo buddies and I headed off for a 5-day trip to Death Valley. On the way we stopped at Ibex Dunes for a sunset shoot. We quickly learned the advantage of carrying a GPS with us, marking the location of the car before we set out to hike about a mile into the desert so we could find our way back in the dark. When we hiked into the dunes it was daylight so everything was easy to see. However, once it got dark it got really dark. Without the GPS it would have been very easy to get disoriented trying to find our way back to the car. Anyway, sunset at the dunes was beautiful. (Click on a photo to enlarge.)
We checked into the hotel in Furnace Creek late in the evening. Early next morning we were up and off to Zabriskie Point for a sunrise shoot. It was beautiful watching the sun light up the mountains in the distance before eventually lighting up the rock formations in front of us. The number of photographers assembled for sunrise indicated just what an iconic location this is.
After breakfast we set off to check out Cottonball Basin as a possible sunrise location for the next day. Unfortunately, after hiking quite some distance, the mud and salt formations that we had hoped to find just didn’t seem to be there. Obviously conditions hadn’t been right for their formation. Two of our group still felt they could make a decent sunrise shot at the location while another fellow and I just weren’t convinced. We decided to return to Zabriskie Point the next morning instead.
On our way back to Furnace Creek for lunch we stopped at the remains of the Harmony Borax Works. The short, self-guided tour was actually quite interesting, outlining the history of mining borate ore in the area. The double-wagons with their twenty-mule teams that the Harmony plant made famous became the symbol of the Borax industry.
Our sunset shoot was at Badwater Basin. We had to explore for quite a while before we found an ideal location where the dried, cracked mud and salt made nice formations. In the end, the location we found was actually fairly good.
The next morning, two of us were back at Zabriskie Point for another sunrise. As it turned out we made the right choice as our two friends were unimpressed with their sunrise shoot at Cottonball Basin.
For our sunset shoot we drove down to the Mesquite Flats Dunes. The area of dunes is fairly large. Unfortunately they were pretty much all covered in footprints. We hiked quite a ways into the dunes and still couldn’t find any that weren’t covered. The other problem we encountered was that the light just went kind of flat towards sunset. The contrast of light and dark between the two sides of a dune just never really happened. The entire dune just gradually got darker. Overall it was not the greatest sunset we had experienced.
But luck was on our side. Overnight a windstorm blew through. We decided to try the dunes again at sunrise. We arrived early and hiked out into the dunes in the dark. Overnight the footprints had been obliterated and we were left with pristine dunes. Event better, the sun rose at such an angle to create the light and dark sides of the dunes that we wanted. Overall, a great success!
For sunset we tried Twenty-mule Team Canyon. Although sunset itself was kind of a bust, the changing colors of the rocks as the light changed was interesting.
For our final morning, all four of us were back at Zabriskie Point for sunrise. Each morning we tried a slightly different vantage point. While sunrise was so-so, I thought that this morning’s location was the best of the three.
Following sunrise it was time for our return journey. The five days had gone all too quickly. Great company and great scenery is always an unbeatable combination.