End of the Trail – Titus Canyon

All good things must come to and end, and so it was with my first trip to Death Valley.  Our Visionary Death Valley workshop group had intended to spend the early evening and sunset hour at Cottonball Basin, but as the winds were picking up, we detoured several miles to the western end of Titus Canyon.  With failing light, we didn’t have much time to explore, but there were still some small photo opportunities.  I spent several minutes with a small marble shelf that had been cut out by water, but the light was just too flat to bring out the latent colors.  Giving up, I moved just a few more yards into the canyon and found this intimate scene, which really, to me, seems to speak of the area; something quintessentially Death Valley.

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Death Valley Sand Dunes

One thing I learned from my journey to Death Valley is that  shooting sand dunes isn’t easy.  My original intention was to come away from this trip with several classic, black & white, abstract images of dramatically side-lit dunes, just like the old (photography) masters. But, that is not how things turned out.

As I mentioned in my initial Death Valley post, I was really taken by the colors of the desert, which, frankly, I have not been prepared for. Nor was I prepared for the quality of light that I experienced in the dunes at either end of the day, when the sky is still bright, but there is no direct sun on the dunes.  It is during these times that the subtle colors of the desert become apparent. I was fortunate, also, that the dunes were not simply a yellow monotone as I had expected as recent rains in the valley had not been fully absorbed, leaving patches of darker sand that helped to further define the shapes of the dunes.

The images in today’s gallery were all captured in the Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells, primarily during those times of  “in between” light.

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Marble Canyon

As I have mentioned before, one of the “Aha” moments for me on my trip to Death Valley was the realization of and appreciation for the colors of the desert; colors I didn’t know were there.  That realization was to make itself known again on our excursion to Marble Canyon.

Looking at a map, the route to Marble Canyon is a very short jaunt, starting right across Hwy 190 from the Stovepipe Wells Village parking lot.  In actuality, the route consists of six miles of dusty, but easy, dirt road followed by something like three miles of very slow navigation around rocks and through dry washes to the canyon, itself.

We arrived in the midafternoon with the sun still almost directly overhead illuminating the walls of the canyon.  As the afternoon progressed, and the sun moved toward the west, the westerly walls of the canyon fell into shadow, but were illuminated with a soft, warm glow reflected from the opposite walls.  When I reached the narrowest part of the canyon, everything was deep in shadow except the highest parts of the west facing walls, making for some interesting photography.  By the time I reached the petroglyphs at the end of our planned excursion, the light had almost completely gone, leaving only enough time for a couple of record shots before the walk out in the dark.

The first of today’s images shows the view looking into Marble Canyon from its mouth, while the other images are from the narrows during a period of what can only be described as magic light.

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