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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The Buck Stopped Here …

The last snow we had was barely a dusting.  It was snowing fairly heavily when I took Molly for her evening walk, so I thought I might head back into Huntley Meadows in the morning, to photograph the boardwalk – hopefully snow-covered and pristine.  Well, there wasn’t much snow to begin with and the wind had blown all night, so that by the time I left the house an hour before sunrise, very little snow was left on the ground or the boardwalk.  To top it off, there were already footprints in the sparse remaining snow! Despite all, I decided to spend some time working the scene, seeing what I could make of it.

I am not quite sure how I feel about this image.  The photographic possibilities of the area and the subject intrigue me, but I think it is going to take many more visits to get something really worthwhile.

You may be wondering about the title of this post.  Just look to the dark spots in the middle section of the boardwalk. As near as I can figure, the deer must have begun using it as part of their trail system to cross the park, and some of the deer did what deer do when they have to.  To paraphrase President Truman, the buck stopped right there.  Nature adapts.

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