Tuesday, March 11, 2008

stove pipe wells

stove pipe wells

This was taken towards the end of the first full day in Death Valley. It had been extremely windy the night before and was still pretty breezy that morning. That might not sound ideal but it sure cleans up all the footprints on the dunes. These are quite close to a road and get a lot of foot traffic, so it is quite rare to get to photograph them without foot prints criss-crossing all over them. I like this particular shot because of how the cloud formations and shadows in the mountain are echoing some of the cracks in the mud. The shape and slope of the dune is also reflected in some of the deep cracks in the mud and the low angled late evening light warms and defines the deep splits in the dried mud. On this trip I realised that the dunes run diagonally along side the road - previously I've parked at the closest point and slogged up and down over smaller dunes to get into the middle of the field. Doing some scouting ahead of this trip on Goggle Earth I was able to see that if I stopped down the road, actually further away from the dunes, I could walk in along the ridges of the dunes. That made for a much easier time! I had to walk maybe a mile but it was over flat, hard packed mud, rather than hiking over the dune fields. It also let me find these great mud deposits that were a lot more expansive and thicker than I'd seen before. This time I approached from the upwind side, so sand hadn't really covered the mud and also I think this side is where the prevailing mud flows come from, so there was a much larger expanse pushing up against and no doubt being stopped by the dune field. The Google Earth scouting via satellite and road maps was really useful on this trip. I was able to mark specific way points then upload them to my GPS. Certainly helped me find my way around on the various small dirt roads and tracks that I got to investigate on this trip.


John Setzler said...

This is an excellent image for all the reasons you described as well as the simple intensity of being there to go along with it :) Just out of curiosity, did you shoot any compositions of just the cracked mud? Being the texture and contrast freak that I am, I would love to see a few of those if you did :)

Steve M said...

it was great meeting you in DV--finally am back myself-stayed a couple of extra days after the workshop which was excellent-Craig does a fantastic job. outstanding image you have posted-I tried to work with the mud flats after you shared your tips with Stacy re the walk into the dunes & mudflats--it is great to see what you came up with-I struggled with the patterns but you have captures the feeling of the place in a great way--hope to see more of your DV images. finally, you've gotr me thinking re the GPS idea--any rec's re maps, addons etc etc??? any input would be great--thanks and take care. Steve M