Death Valley and Eastern Sierra Portfolio

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People on Dunes
Dune Abstract #1
Crescent Dune
Side-Lit Dune
Sand Pattern
Leg Dune
Curved Dunes
Dry Lake Bed and Sky
Fence and Porch, Bodie, CA
Aspens, Conway Summit, CA
Tufa, Mono Lake Dry Bed, CA
From Zabriskie Point
Whale Dune
Zabriskie Point
Pyramid Dune
Mono Lake and High Sierra, CA
                                   
                                     New 2015 Death Valley Images

Rippled Dome Sand Dune
Pillowed Clouds Over the Dunes
Dunes, Mountains, and Sky
Dunes, Death Valley
Four Dunes, Death Valley
Dune, Death Valley
Storm Clouds Over Dunes
Dune and Bird Shadow
Artists Palette and Sky
Ripples on Dunes
Ubehebe Crater and Bushes
Dunes, Person, and Mountains
Death Valley and Eastern Sierra

I think that Death Valley is one of the most photographic places in the world. The most interesting feature of Death Valley are, of course, the large sand dunes. The dunes can make fantastic geometric shapes when illuminated by early morning or late evening sidelight. Due to the nightly winds in Death Valley, the dunes are constantly changing their shape. The contrast between the lit-up sides and shadow sides create abstract forms that continually change.
 
The first time I went to Death Valley I wanted to make abstract pictures of the dunes that would have body-like shapes, textures, and features. The textures in the sand can make the dunes look like the surface of skin. The White Mountains in the distance provide a backdrop to the dunes that keeps the eye focused on the dunes.
 
During my first visit to Death Valley I was using a Pentax 6x7 film camera. This camera looks and works like a 35 mm film camera on steroids. But this was a great camera to use on the sand dunes, as it was much lighter, faster, and easier to set up than a 4x5 view camera, and gives a better quality negative than a smaller 35 mm camera does. The speed and ease of taking photographs on the dunes with the Pentax 6x7 camera is important because the sun comes up so quickly, and the shadows disappear when the sun gets too high in the sky. Also, not having to deal with sand getting inside the view camera or film holder makes a roll film camera better on the dunes than the 4x5 camera.

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I have recently (January of 2015) gone to Death Valley and used a digital, full frame camera, the Nikon D800E. The bottom 12 images of this portfolio are from this trip. The 36 MP sensor of this camera provides the images with enough detail to make large sized prints. The small, light camera (compared to the Pentax 6x7 or my 4x5 view camera), also helped me trudge over the sand dunes to photograph the untouched dunes further into the park. I had some great weather conditions on the trip, with some light rain and great storm clouds to photograph. I also took some abstract images in the canyons of Death Valley. Like Yosemite, the dunes in Death Valley always excite me to photograph.
 
Mono Lake, north of Death Valley, is one of the most interesting areas in the desert regions of California to photograph. The lake lies in front of the High Sierra mountain range. Since the water level has dropped in the lake, Tufa, which were once completely submerged limestone stalagmites, now show up above the water  in the shallow areas of the lake, or on dry land.
 
Nearby Mono Lake is the ghost town of Bodie, a town abandoned when the gold ran out long ago. The homes and buildings of this "ghost town" have been preserved, and are very photographic. On image I made, "Fence and Porch", is typical of the home styles found there..