Beginning of the year 2020, I got to spend two weeks shooting in Death Valley and some surrounding areas.    

Following are some images from this trip. If you are interested in acquiring a print of any image, please visit the Prints page on my website.

"Colors of Death Valley"

A study of light at the badlands in Death Valley National Park. Pre-dawn at Death valley presents a completely different landscape than post-sunrise times. With the lack of harsh sunlight, intricate details and colors of badlands become more apparent in the low light conditions. Soft shadows created by the pre-dawn light add to the delicacy of the scene.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 at 2 sec, ISO100, f/4.0 at 120mm

Badwater basin in Death Valley, CA.

Walking the shallow salt water basin, looking for interesting salt patterns was a very memorable and inspiring experience. By the time I found an interesting pattern, golden light of the setting sun was just brushing off the tops of the mountains on right, casting an intense contrast to the scene. With standstill water, a perfect mirror surface was created in front of me. At the end of the night, I was left with one of my favorite images from death valley and hiking boots soaking in water saltier than the sea.

EXIF: Nikon D750 with a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8; 1/20s f/18 ISO 100 at 14mm

"Sound of Wind"

Sand dunes are one of my favorite subjects to shoot. What I find most admirable about them is their ability to create something very complex with something really simple. In my opinion, to walk around in the sand exploring different compositions is a great exercise in photography. Finding an interesting pattern in the sand is like finding a treasure which fades away with time.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, 1/50s f/18 ISO 100 at 70mm

"A Winding Journey"

A small scene from the sand dunes of Death Valley

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, 1/40s f/18 ISO 100 at 200mm

"Pastel Waves"

An intimate scene from the dunes of Death Valley. My last post on my Instagram feed was about photographing sand dunes in harsh light conditions. Contrast to that, this image is about the softest light possible. Right before the sunrise, sunlight is refracted from the Earth's atmosphere, creating very low contrast, diffused light conditions. This kind of light is ideal to emphasize subtle colors and details on the surface of the landscape. Which is why I chose to isolate a smaller scene within the wide dune area. The soft light gave the dunes a 'ripples on water' like appearance. The pastel colors and the lack of contrast had a rather sensuous effect on my mind.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm, 1/40s f/6.0 ISO 100 at 480mm

"Golden dunes"

A study of light at the sand dunes of Death Valley. I am trying to understand how different kinds of light interact differently with a given landscape, more so how it affects me. In my mind, the quality of light has a significant impact on the kind of emotions it will invoke. In this case study, "Golden Dunes" is shot just after the sunrise and "Pastel Dunes" is shot before the sunrise (swipe left). Directional and warm direct light in case of "Golden Dunes" has a vastly different emotional response than that of the diffused, cooler and non-directional light in the "Pastel Dunes" image. "Golden Dunes", a high contrast scene, is louder, invigorating and full of hope and invokes an emotional response of that nature. Contrast to that, "Pastel Dunes", a much lower-contrast scene is quiet, gentle, and calming. Easiest comparison I can make is to a song that will pump you up vs a lullaby that will put you to sleep. Of course, it goes without saying that the emotional response one has for an image will vary from person to person, but I believe thinking about it is an interesting exercise in photography and is worth spending some time on it for your own images.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm, 1/60s f/11 ISO 100 at 600mm

"Solitary"

Walking the Racetrack playa alone, by myself was truly an unforgettable experience and probably the best one from my visit to Death Valley National Park. The playa was lit with the full moon light and I didn't even need a flashlight to walk around. A huge dry lake bed surrounded by towering mountains and my lonesome with my camera. It was a thrilling yet humbling moment. This image is about that experience. It may be trivial, but it really sums up that unforgettable night on the dry lake bed.

Experience first!

"Myriad of colors"

An intimate landscape from Death Valley.

Like an abstract expressionist dripping and splashing ink onto a canvas laid on the floor, Death Valley has created its own masterpieces that could rival any paintings of the famous abstract expressionists of our time like Jackson Pollock. 

It was a gray, overcast afternoon in Death Valley. While not ideal for most kinds of photography or even considered "bad light", this kind of diffused, low intensity light can be used to bring out of the real beauty of the badlands. This low intensity light allows one to really explore the color and tonal contrasts within the landscape. Finer details on the surface of the badlands can be enhanced with the lack of strong shadows. There is no such thing as bad light.

"Incandescence"

Early morning light sculpting the sand dunes of Death Valley

EXIF: Nikon D750, Sigma 15-600mm, 1/80s f/11 ISO 100 at 360mm

"Sand Swells"

"There's sand in my boots" - me, most of the time in Death Valley National Park. Here's an early morning shot of the sand dunes in Death Valley. The morning light had just started lighting up the tops of the mountains in the background. The soft light on the dunes lasted only momentarily, but created soft shadows, the sand had a soft glow to it. The horizontal rows of the dunes resembled raging waves or swells of the sea, inspiring the title of the image.

EXIF: Nikon D750 with a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2; 1/60s, f/9.0 ISO 200 at 200mm

"Badwater Moonset"

Blue hour before a sunrise in Death Valley was complemented by the Moon setting in the Belt of Venus. I used two images to create this composite image. One image was exposed for the Moon and another exposed for the rest of the picture.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, 1/8s f/9.0 ISO 100 at 70mm

"Scale Armor"

A small scene from the slot canyons of Death Valley. Light changes very quickly in a slot canyon. With a noon sun, and light filtering through the narrow slot canyons, you see deep shadows and bright highlights on the walls of the canyon. One can create a very high contrast scene in such conditions. However, as the sun starts to move away, one can get sunlight reflecting from the orange colored canyon walls, creating a warm and soft light. I'm sure every photographer in the American southwest loves to shoot in this light. I came across this composition while hiking in a slot canyon in Death Valley, but the light conditions were less than desirable. I decided to wait at the spot for the reflected light to come into action. The reflected light created a soft contrast, which showcases intricate details within the rocky wall. The pattern in the rocks resembled scales of an alligator, hence the title. I wanted to focus the attention to the scaly pattern, which is why I converted the image to monochrome.

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 70-200mm G2; 1/20s, f/18, ISO 100 at 175mm

"Salt of the Earth"

A web-like structure appears on the ground as Badwater Basin starts to dry up. The abstract nature of the formations was very appealing to me. Different areas in the basin created unique shapes and patterns. One can see the structure formation in various stages, which can be interesting to document as well. The thought behind the image was to create an image which conveyed the vastness and emptiness of Badwater Basin. Which is why I composed the frame with the basin expanding from edge to edge. In shaded areas, these bright white salt structures reflect the blue colored sky giving them a pleasant blue hue.

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, 1/30s, f/18, ISO 100 at 24mm

"Awakening"

Alpenglow on Panamint range in the back created an excellent backdrop to highlight badlands of Death Valley in the front. The pink-red alpenglow backdrop lasted only for a couple of minutes before turning yellow

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, 1/200s f/2.8 ISO 100 at 165mm

"Solus"

One of the flattest surfaces on Earth is Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park. The mud patterns of this dry lake bed are quite unique. The mud mounds are very short, which means they do not create a lateral shadows, except when the first light of the rising sun hits the mounds at a very short angle. I have tried to capture that moment with this image. It was a freezing morning at Racetrack Playa and I found this small lonesome rock which had frost formations over it. I was also all alone at the location and kinda frosty.

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 24-70mm G2, 1/40s f/18 ISO 100 at 62mm

"Parched Earth"

A small scene from a dry river bed in Death valley. The dried mud patterns resembled chocolate shavings on top of a cake

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, 0.4s f/8.0 ISO 400 at 105mm

Apertio - a window to Death valley.

EXIF: Niko D750, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 0.6s f/14 ISO100 at 26mm

"Panamint range"

EXIF: Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm at 150mm; 1/50s f/5.6 ISO 100

"Shadows at Play"

A small scene from the badlands of Death Valley, CA

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 70-200mm G2 1/125s f/9.0 ISO 100 at 145mm

"Crystal Field"

Once in a while after a rainstorm in Death Valley, the salt pans of Badwater basin get flooded with a thin layer of water, creating unique conditions for photography. These conditions do not last long as the water evaporates rather quickly in the dry desert heat of Death Valley.

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, 1/20s f/9.0 ISO 100 at 32mm

"Meander"

Hiking the slot canyons of Death Valley

EXIF: Nikon D750 Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, 1/6s f/22 ISO 100 at 24mm

"Aphrodite's Glory"

Twilight progression over the badlands of Death Valley

EXIF: Nikon D750, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, 1/20s f/9.0 ISO 100 at 200mmâ €


Badwater

Badlands

Sand dunes

Abstracts in Sand dunes

Mountains and Canyons

Mud patterns

Rocks

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