Exploring Desert Light
Lunar Glow in Death Valley
Understanding the nature of the desert landscape means being open to its amazing range of light. Driving across the desert in the early evening revealed the scene below. I’ve never seen the moon’s glow reflected quite like this.
What’s So Bad About the Badlands?
The more I photograph Death Valley’s Badlands, the more I fall in love them. The colors and textures revealed in the early light are so beautiful that I’d rather call them the “Goodlands.” Sure, that is easily said when a sturdy 4 wheel drive vehicle is parked a mile away and it is a short drive to a hardy breakfast. One can only imagine looking across this scene, years ago, when life was dependent on crossing this rugged landscape on foot or by horse to know why they were called the Badlands.
Saved By the Light
The following images are the result of a bad navigation mistake. Because my phone’s GPS was not working here, I used compass readings from various landmarks to get to a shooting location in the dark. On this morning, I wanted to shoot the sunrise from the less visited side of the Mesquite Sand Dunes. I had the correct compass heading, but started from the wrong landmark which was one of many sign posts along the road. In hind sight, a sign post was probably not the best landmark to pick and was too late before I realized that I was not where I wanted to be.
Fortunately, I was saved by one of the most amazing shows of morning light I have ever seen in Death Valley. While the foregrounds in these photographs may not be most exciting things to focus a lens on, the light makes up for it. That is why I feel the need to share this early Death Valley morning with you.
I’m including this image which shows the peaceful feeling of an early morning in the desert. Although far from a dramatic desert landscape, it shows that the desert is a rough environment to try to exist in, no matter what species you happen to belong to. In the early light on the morning, before the challenges of a day in the desert begins, it is a magical and beautiful place to be.
Rich you out-do yourself every time! I find the foregrounds are as fascinating and dramatic as the backgrounds. I think one of the things that makes landscape photography successful is when the viewer feels like walking into the scene. I usually like to pick out my favorite but . . . well perhaps the Lunar Glow because of the unique lighting opportunity and then the Badlands at Dawn due to the depth, textures, exposure, colors . . . oh they are all awesome! Have you published some books yet?
Thanks Season. I really appreciate your comments. It was so strange to see that lunar glow. I had packed up for the day and we had a long drive down a 4 wheel drive road in front of us in the dark. When I noticed the glowing mountain I had to stop. It was such an unusual thing to see,
Great work, very surreal and beautiful
Thanks Lou. I appreciate it.
Rich, It really is amazing how beautiful a desert can be and your images do it justice. I I know since I was at Death Valley just a couple months ago and was a witness to what you captured with your images.
Thanks Larry. Death Valley is a very special place.
I just discovered your blog late last night and was blown away by your lunar landscapes. I have a deep love for hiking at night and viewing the moon in all it’s glory…you perfectly capture the beauty of it. I especially like your “blue hour” photos.
Hi Violet. Thanks for your kind words about my work. I’m also a big fan of night hiking and often hike to photograph a location leaving enough time to be able to enjoy that special time of day during the blue hours. It is a magical time, especially when the moon is out. By the way, I have read some of your blog and have to tell you that you are an inspiration. You definitely A’int No Shrinking Violet. Thanks again for your comment.