The Bad Lands of Death Valley

Spending time in Death Valley National Park was an overwhelmingly creative experience. I think it is for many artists because it is one of the most beautiful and strangely diverse landscapes in America. This is the third of several posts about life in Death Valley.

The Badlands

The Badlands of Death ValleyMorning in the Badlands by Richard Lewis 2013

Badlands are heavily eroded places with little vegetation. In Death Valley, the Badlands are laced with colorful clay deposits that decorate beautifully sculpted hills. To the early traveler this area must have been a perplexing place; both beautiful and forbidding at the same time.

The Badlands of Death ValleyWatercolor Badlands by Richard Lewis 2013

The Badlands of Death Valley

Natural Color Scheme by Richard Lewis 2013

The Badlands of Death ValleyThe Badlands of 20 Mule Team Canyon by Richard Lewis 2013

The Badlands of Death ValleyBadlands at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2013

How I Did It. – The most photographed place in Death Valley is Zabriskie Point which overlooks the Badlands and Death Valley. It is not the only overlook of the Badlands; it is just easy to get to. At 5 AM the Zabriskie Point parking lot was full because it is a great spot for photographers to capture the Badlands at dawn. A few miles down the road is a turn off where a short hike up a canyon gave me a view of the badlands shown above that I had all to myself. Unless you want that popular shot of an area, a bit of research will help you find unique locations and special places to photograph that you can call your own.

Moonlit Badlands of Death ValleyMoonlit Badlands by Richard Lewis 2013

How I Did It – Death Valley is the place for night photography because lack of artificial light reveals an unbelievable amount of stars. The standard night photograph technique is to photograph the foreground during twilight and the night sky later when the stars are out. The two images are then blended together while editing. I find this gives an unrealistic look. It is not a bad technique, I just don’t particularly like it for most of my work. On the evening shown above the moon cast an eerie light on the landscape so this image is pretty much the way the landscape looked at 5:00 AM. There are two exposures here, one for the badlands and one slightly darker for the sky but they were done at the same time.

Desolation Canyon

Desolation Canyon in Death ValleyColor Shift in Desolation Canyon by Richard Lewis 2013

A hike in Desolation Canyon shows the Badlands in up close. This canyon was constantly changing in color from Blue to green to tan and back.

Desolation Canyon in Death ValleyCracked Mud in Desolation Canyon by Richard Lewis 2013

Desolation Canyon in Death ValleyThe Wash Leading to Desolation Canyon by Richard Lewis 2013

Canyons usually spill out into a wash, which is a wide-open area where the water and debris from the canyon ends up. It can be tedious hiking up a wash, but in the right light it can also be quite beautiful.

More Death Valley to come!

Want to be more creative with your camera? I can help so feel free to contact me. 

Like these photographs? They’re for sale as fine art prints. Please visit my photography website to see more.