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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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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