Death Valley Trip – Driving to Furnace Creek

It’s not really far from BadWater to Furnace Creek, but there were just so many fascinating mountain shapes, and fantastic colors. The photos below will never be able to convey the real beauty of the mountains.

Mountain
(1/80s, F11, ISO100, 40mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Mountain
(1/160s, F11, ISO100, 70mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

I suddenly saw this fascinating lava sculpture.

Sculpture
(1/60s, F18, ISO160, 35mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Mountain
(1/100s, F8, ISO100, 24mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Mountain
(1/125s, F6.3, ISO100, 35mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

This was the only animal I saw in Death Valley. He looked really hot and out of place, and hardly bothered to get out of the roads when the cars came.

2012.10.20@19.30.16-2-jes

Death Valley Trip – Natural Bridge Canyon

A couple of miles north of Badwater Basin, is the Natural Bridge Canyon. There is a short, but really bumpy drive from the highway to the start of the trail.

This is where the trail starts. I was amazed by all the colors in the mountains.  (I was planning to go to the Artists Drive, but the road was for some reason closed).

Color mountains

(1/1000s, F2.8, ISO 100, 24mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Walking up to the natural bridge was several waterfalls carved in the side of the canyon.

Waterfall

People obviously have had fun here creating small rock towers. There were plenty of them all throughout the valley.

The canyon

After about 15 minutes walk up the canyon was the natural bridge, with me underneath. (I had forgotten my radio-remote in the car, so had to use the 10 second timer and run to get the photo :-)). This photo should give you some impression of the size of the bridge.

The light conditions were difficult, with  the sun shining on parts of the canyon, and other parts in shade. So in addition to adding contrast, I’ve increased the “shadows” and reduced the “Highlights” and “Whites” in the photo.

The natural bridge

(1/30s, F10, ISO100, 11mm – Lens DT 11-18mm)

Death Valley Trip – Badwater basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in Death Valley, more than 85m below sea level.

Not really a lot of water, and absolutely bad, being way to salty to drink. But there is actually both plants and animals living in the water.

This is on the way down to Badwater Basin. I liked the layered mountains. Also notice, the straight road.

(1/250s, F11, ISO 100, 70mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

In the deserts, a few plants try to survive.

(1/40s, F22, ISO500, 24mm – lens 24-70F2.8)

The lowest point. There is a little water, and a lot of salt. They have set up a small platform, so you can get close to the water and the salt crystals.

(1/2000s, F2.8, ISO100, 24mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Here you see some of the water and the salt crystals.

(1/1250s, F4.5, ISO 100, 11mm – Lens 11-18)

I was also amazed by all the colorful mountains in Death Valley. Here with some of the salt in front.

(1/200s, F8, ISO 100, 75mm – Lenst 70-200F2.8)

Before leaving Badwater, I took photo of myself, thanks to my GorillaPod, which is just strong enough to hold my camera with the 24-70 lens.

And finally an overview picture, where you can see the size of the basin, all covered with salt.

 

Death Valley Trip – Sunrise at Zabriskie Point

During my trip through Death Valley I wanted to capture the sunrise at Zabriskie Point.

I was up at 5:30, had a beautiful morning sky, with Venus still high in the sky, and the Big Dipper in a very unfamiliar rotation (see the last photo). The temperature was only 6C, which was kind of chilly as I was wearing only shorts and T-shirt.

The sunrise was a fantastic display of colors and shadows, which is impossible to capture on camera. Below are a couple of the shots from this morning.


(1/50s, F8, ISO200, 28mm – Lens 28-70F2.8)


(1/80s, F8, ISO100, 11mm – Lens 11-18)

Below is the first shot this morning, which shows Venus and the Big Dipper.

Death Valley Trip – Death Valley Junction

If you are going to Death Valley Junction, the place to stay is the Armagosa Opera house. Actually it’s the only place to stay 🙂

The population is less than 20, but it does have it’s own airport…

The Armagosa Opera house also holds a motel, where I pre-booked a room for the night. Which was good, because there were no available rooms when I arrived. The contrast to the Palazzo in Las Vegas, where I spent the week before, was huge.

The motel is pretty worn down, but still has it’s charm and is definitely worth a visit. Here is the reception area. Notice the guitar on the chair, which is painted on the wall.

Each room is different, and they have a photo of each room at their web-site. My room looked like this, and I even had a shower with hot and cold water.

After checking in, I went back on the highway to try to capture the sunset. Here is a photo of what I think is called Shadow Mountain.

(1/80s, F9.0, ISO100, 30mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

And then later during sunset


(1250s, F10, ISO800, 70mm – Lens 24-70F2.8)

Here it is almost dark, and the moon is up in the corner.

(1/50s, F4.5 ISO 100, 12mm – Lens 11-18)

What really amazed me by being in the desert was the silence. I could hear no sounds at all. Except for a car passing by. Even turning the dials on the camera sounded like thunder after a while. Quite amazing, how there can be no sound.

Back at the Opera House the manager was kind enough to let me borrow the key to the stage, so I got to take a couple of photos there as well.