Mountain View at Salt Creek

Mountain View
Mountain View by I Nancy, on Flickr

Q: What do you do in the middle of the day in Death Valley?

A: Experiment.

There is a big debate about this image around the camera club after a judge made a negative comment about the horizon being too close to the middle. The same night he also knocked a reflection image for the same reason. After many discussions about different crops I have decided that this image is just perfect.

Salt Flat Reflections – Badwater Basin

Salt Flat Reflections
Salt Flat Reflections by I Nancy, on Flickr

This is one of those images that I knew would be included in my portfolio the minute I checked it on my camera’s screen. I’m glad there were no technical issues, I had been pretty good about being technically deliberate the whole weekend.

Salt polygons are one of the iconic images of Death Valley and for two days we had scouted the east-bank of Badwater Basin for the perfect spot. However,  due to unusually large amounts of rain this winter, most of the basin is flooded and the salt formations have dissolved under a foot of water. Badwater wasn’t a complete disappointment however, the sunset that night was spectacular and was reflected north and south of the usual vantage points (images will be processed and posted in a future post).

On our last afternoon we were debating where to spend our last sunset. There were unfortunately no clouds in the sky, it would be a relatively tame night. Should we return to Devils Golf Course? Will the Cornfields have good light? Salt Creek was on our mind and unexplored. We wandered into the Furnace Creek visitor’s center to try to get some clarity. The ranger there talked about Desolation Canyon and a few other places and then offhandedly mentioned “if you want to see salt polygons, you can find them off of West Side Road”. We were there! We scouted during the day, and snapped a few in the  too bright light and formed our plan to return later.

We arrived in time to watch the sun go down in the west lighting up the mountains to the east. I had found this leading line of rocks heading into the water and lo and behold, a beautiful golden reflection of the mountains. Tripod was set, careful f-stop for full depth of field, live-view (for mirror lockup), and click-click, two for good luck. These conditions held for no more than 15 minutes, the glowing rim growing then shrinking. A bit more time in the afterglow but these I were the ones I knew I’d remember.

Salt Delta
Salt Delta by I Nancy, on Flickr

More images from Death Valley

Quite Light at Mesquite Dunes

Quiet Light at Mesquite Dunes. Death Valley, California, by I Nancy on Flickr

Some time ago, the assignment in the Martin Bailey Photography Forum was quiet light. It was an interesting assignment for me. Although I’ve always admired low-contrast images, the approach had alluded me. These images, taken this past weekend at Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley, are my tribute to quiet light.

On this morning we were treated to a light layer of high clouds, what my friend Darrel Priebe calls God’s Softbox. I like how the gentle shapes of the dunes match the mood of the gentle light. The sky was a beautiful powder blue with nearly the same B&W tonal value as the dunes themselves. These images are pretty enough in color but the color contrasts were contradicting the whole low-contrast, quite light, feel that I was seeking.

The RAW files were first processed in Lightroom to adjust dynamic range, then brought into Silver Efex Pro for conversion into B&W.

Peaks by I Nancy, on Flickr

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