Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe  – it is not an exercise in bad grammar but the largest of a cluster of volcanic craters off the northern tip of the Panamint Range in Death Valley National Park.  It is a maar type crater, created when rising magma came in contact with ground water about 2,100 years ago, creating steam and huge pressures from below.  The resulting blast created a hole about 800 feet deep and .5 mile wide.

Our Visionary Death Valley Workshops group arrived at the Ubehebe parking area shortly before sunrise and began a self-paced, counter-clockwise photo walk around the crater rim.  According to Michael and Guy, most photo groups take about three hours to complete the approximately one mile walk, but, our group really “got into” the place and took nearly five hours, some sort of record.

Today’s image was captured at the northern side of the crater rim toward the end of my rim walk. After over four hours of photography, I had begun to feel creatively exhausted and had actually put my camera away on my walk back to the parking lot when this scene presented itself before me.  Because of recent rains, there was water in the bottom of the crater that contrasted with its textured surroundings, and with the arrival of late morning clouds from the southwest, there was a range of light and sculpted a sense of depth and shape to the crater I had not seen earlier. My ennui immediately disappeared as my camera was pulled back out of the pack, placed on the tripod and the composition framed. Click!  An absurdly simple setup resulting in what is for me an extremely satisfying image.

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It’s All About the Color

I recently returned from a ten day trip to Death Valley where I attended a couple of Visionary Death Valley Workshops with Michael E. Gordon and Guy Tal.  I met Guy several years ago at a NANPA Summit in Jacksonville, FL, and since then I have followed his writings and greatly admired his photographs.  He lives and photographs in the desert in and around Torrey, UT, and one of the things that has fascinated me about his work is the colors in his desert landscapes.

Today’s image was made at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley – one of the most visited tourist sports in the valley.  It was captured after sunrise, but just before the sun cleared the Funeral Mountains to our back, so that the light was very even. I had no illusions about capturing a unique image (one that had not been made several million times before during tourist drive-byes), but I really wasn’t prepared for the colors I would capture at that vantage.

I had been in Death Valley for two days and until this time had not really begun to see the colors before me. But, from then on, I became evermore acutely aware of the profusion of colors to be found in the desert.

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Where’s Winter?

There are less than 10 days left to February, and for all intents and purposes, we have not had winter.  Except for a few really cold days in December (‘teens & wind chill), this has been a pretty normal DC area winter; drab, too warm to do anything wintery and too cold to do anything non-wintery.  We have had three snow falls, with a total accumulation of barely more than a half inch, none of which lasted more than a day.  For a landscape photographer living in a drab area, snow events offer an opportunity to look at things anew and I have tried to take advantage of the meager offerings this winter has given me.

This image was made right after the second snow we had this year.  I was out of the house right at sun up as I wanted to hike some unmaintained trails in the Huntley Meadows wetlands area near my home.  Figuring that since the formal, north entrance to the park did not  open until 8am, and that I was entering from one of the southerly access trails, I hoped I would to get to the park boardwalk before anyone else so I could photograph it extending out into the water with untrammeled snow – kind of a minimalist, “zenny” type of image.  But I was too late.  When I arrived, there were already lots of bird watchers and photographers out and around.  So, instead of photographing the boardwalk, I photographed back into the woods I had just traversed from the boardwalk – today’s image.

_DSC3699 Gallery

As you can see, the snow was light and fluffy, sticking to branches and tree trunks.  Really quite beautiful. But, the weather was mild and within another hour it had all dropped to the ground and melted, by which time I was back home having a cup of tea.

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