Death Valley 2018 - Day Two, Seeking Solitude
I hope you enjoy the video of our second day in Death Valley. I am happy that one image I share from this day has been juried into two local shows, one a national competition exhibit at the County of Ventura Museum. These days are adventures. They are not predetermined by the prescribed list of sites to visit along with multitudes of others. It only takes a little effort to go off the beaten path a little into your own unknown and have a day unfold from a blank slate into a day with your senses filled with unspeakable beauty and your heart filled with appreciation for the magic that comes.
The following is the transcript from the video. To view high res images from the day click here.
We were both ready for some solitude after spending our first day in Death Valley with some pretty large holiday crowds so we were ready to venture off to a location that would be far enough away down a four-wheel drive only Road and unadvertised and we figured this gave us the best chance for some solitude. When we pulled off the highway we saw two vehicles pulled over then it just come from the direction we were headed one was four-wheel drive the other a low clearance passenger car that car had part of its drivetrain hanging on the ground. This gave us confidence we were headed in the right direction. the road wasn't bad but there were sections where our high clearance was necessary there were some stretches that had deep sand that we had the gun through that the Jeep was happy to do and otherwise the road was a bit washboarded. As we tried to determine where to park that was closest to the dunes we plan to visit we did see one group camped but otherwise it was wide open, quiet and deserted. We brought the dogs with us knowing it would be a cool day and it would give them and more time with us and a chance to run around before we hiked to the dunes. The back of the Jeep has a platform for them to lay down for their daytime naps.
One thing I experience and would like to listen more closely to, is when the scene beckons to me. It's hard to describe and I'm sure I'm not alone in experiencing this but it is real and this was happening as we started to hike towards the dunes. I knew I would have to stop to take this photograph and even though the Sun was high in the sky I was seeing it as a black and white so that didn't matter it actually played into the vision I was having.
The ground we are walking on is covered with some of the coolest looking rocks. Some with amazing streaks of color. The geology and Death Valley is something I want to learn about and I actually bought a book when I returned. It's clear some really big stuff happened here.
After a while I stopped to determine what focal length I needed to compose the scene and I needed more reach than I had for the 4 x 5 though I probably could have repositioned but I also didn't have my set of colored filters that I would need to darken the sky as I wanted so I chose the GFX with the 70 to 200 lens. The GFX allows me to choose different aspect ratios which is a great tool to have in composing the scene. It also has film simulations that for black and white and has settings to simulate various red and orange filters I shot this one at of f11 for one twentieth of a second ISO 100. I'm really happy with how this turned out.
After climbing to the highest point of the dunes it was time for some lunch and a rest.
I set up with the four by five 300 millimeter lens and I'm working on this composition that has that spine and the shadow kind of coming in leading from one corner, no sky in the composition. I can't really recreate it with the video. So all dialed in and I got the hood on to keep the sunlight off the gonna shoot it at f45 and looking for the shadow of the mountains in the distance to turn blue and everything else to get golden. Hopefully we'll get some good light. We got a little ways to go before the Sun gets down towards the horizon so we'll see. I'm definitely gonna shoot a sheet of Velvia and I might throw a sheet of Provia in there as well so now we just wait. Had some other explorers get in my frame there for a few minutes but they seem to have vanished. I did expose one sheet of Ektar right before they climbed into the frame a little before prime light but I got a safety shot and then there's always Photoshop. We are probably about 5 minutes 10 minutes from the sun dipping below the horizon year so we're looking for some good color. Yeah baby this is what it's all about.
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Here's a link to the book I bought about the geology of Death Valley. https://www.amazon.com/Geology-Underfoot-Death-Valley-Owens/dp/0878423621