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Death Valley



I am returning to Death Valley National Park this year to capture colorful sunrises and sunsets. I was there one year ago in hopes of shooting the yellow, orange and pink skies over the barren desert landscapes. Nope, it did not happen. Clear blue cloudless skies everyday.

I had watched the weather several weeks before my trip. Rain, snow had all happened. I wondered if that meant I had missed the kind of skies I was hoping for.


Day one up for a sunrise shoot starting at 4:45 a.m. in Badwater Basin. The Basin was soggy with mud and salt. My boots sunk in the ground coating them with a brown slime. I had several photos in mind for this location. All included a pink and orange clouds filling the early morning blue sky. That did not happen. A cloudless sky with little color started the day. The sun streamed light onto the mountain tops. Although creating a beautiful backdrop to the white and brown salt polygons, it was not what I imagined. So, no photographs here. Oh well, you have to be flexible.

For the evening’s sunset shoot, again I hoped for a colorful sky. Nope…not happening. I was positioned on a salt flat off a main road. I turned around to see a full moon setting over the mountain peaks. The light cast a glow over the mountain peaks and salt polygons. There was a trace of pink in the sky that added color to the evenings blue sky. Not what I was hoping for but a nice shot.

My absolutely favorite location, and probably everyone else’s, are the Mesquite Sand Dunes. There is something so harsh and remote about the site. Over every dune, a different scene unfolds. I made two trips to the Dunes. One to capture the morning light and the second to watch the end of day light change over the sand. This is the place where light, lines and shadows move across the scape with the sun. The textures change from wavy patterns to smooth, wind blown sand with sharp edges. One word of caution, be careful where you step. The best shot may be ruined by your foot prints.


It is said that good things come to those who wait. I was rewarded on my final morning shoot in DV. (That was 3 days of boring sky.) A beautiful sunrise! Up 5000 feet above sea level to view Badwater Basin from above on a very frosty morning. Fire in the Sky lit up the clouds. Color can and went fast. I think I had maybe 5 minutes to catch a shot. I turned around and watched the sun rays, now above the mountain peaks in the east, cast a glow on the ranges to the west. Badwater Basin looks very different from up top creating geometric patterns of white and brown. The basin floor looks smooth and swirly not the salt and mud pit at ground level. This morning made my trip. I happily drove back to Las Vegas to catch my flight home with the feeling of getting some great shots.

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