I travel with a friend of mine whose simple question, "Do you care to try this?" often leads to some great moments with my Deardorff camera. A few years back that question landed us in Death Valley National Park – one of my favorite places for shooting landscape photography.
Death Valley National Park is a place of incredible extremes. It is the hottest, lowest and driest place in North America. Yet, it has peaks that are as high as 12,000 feet that will often be covered in snow. It can be quite windy and rain can roll through bringing with it a stillness unlike anywhere else.
When I was there four years ago it didn’t appear to be a great time to visit. It was one of those moments that I had to force myself to go. I packed my van and started driving around the area. The day was bright and sunny, not my favorite conditions to shoot in. So I explored the cracked earth looking for something to capture. Eventually, a sand storm came through and I was shooting inside of the van since the winds were blasting at 60mph.
Then came the rain. You don’t think of rain as a common occurrence in Death Valley. When it is finished, though, it leaves an unmarked canvas, free of foot prints or any evidence of man.
The dunes were perfect. Everywhere you turned there was a perfect shot. The sun was on it’s way down creating spectacular shadows on the contoured sand. For two hours I took as many black and white landscape photos I could before it was too dark to shoot.
I hiked back to my van on such a great high from the experience. It was a wonderful reminder of why I so enjoy this work. You can lose yourself in a landscape, seeing something new at every turn and step, an opportunity for another great capture.
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