Death Valley, The Valley of Life!

It’s the silence that I love most. Sometimes, on a still morning or evening, it can be so quiet that all you can hear is your breath. Parting way from the insanity of every day life. Escaping from the rat race, social media, emails, and texts. Just disengaging from it all and watching nature unfold before my eyes without even a hint of noise, that’s what keeps me coming back and we drove across the flats, leaving a plume of dust in our wake.

Death Valley is not so much a desert as a surreal mountain region with a desert at its heart. Vistas rearrange themselves kaleidoscopically as pastel-colored geologic formations move in and out of view. The striking colors splashed onto the rock at Artist’s Palette (picture below) were made by hot, mineral rich waters bubbling up from below. The magna heated water met lava ash and lake sediments, changing the chemistry and the appearance of the rocks.  The greens and blues are chlorites; pinks and purples are magnesium oxide and the reds and oranges are iron oxides.

I'm at Zabriskie Point an hour before sunrise and took my first shot during the civil dawn. The first images showed real promise. Exposures were long, as much as 3 minutes. Because it was so early, the light from the sky was an incredibly rich, predawn blue with flashes of a glowing yellow-orange. The dawn was coming, and the light was getting brighter every moment.  By the time I took this picture the exposure was down to one minute. 

Some technical notes from the field; Nikon D810 on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with an Arca Swiss ball head and a Really Right Stuff-L-plate so that I could center the Zeiss 25mm Distagon lens over the nodal point.  This image was to be a multi-frame panorama.

If you were able to follow all the preceding details, then you already know what I am talking about. If not, it hardly matters. What does matter though is rather than trying further to explain what is best seen, I suggest relishing the magnificence of Death Valley yourself and if you get a chance, go hike in the pre dawn light to Zabriskie Point!

Thanks for looking, prints available at


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