I have just returned from my second trip to Death Valley National Park in California. As with my previous (and first) trip, but can be quite overwhelming and difficult to come away with quality images due to the fact of the sheer size of the park, and also due to the lack of clouds on most days. It makes all of the quality images with unique conditions all the more special knowing the hard work that is put into bringing back work that is top notch.
With that being said, my goal this time was to spend much more time in the dunes and exploring them extensively. The last time I was here, I was only able to spend one evening out in the dunes. And it was a cloudless and lackluster sunset at best. But this time around, we were blessed with some stellar conditions with clouds on 3 out of the 5 days we were there. Some of the places we explored were Badwater Basin, Cottonball Basin, Salt Flats, Mesquite Sand Dunes, and Dante's view.
If you plan a trip there, I would highly recommend the Death Valley ebook by Ron Coscorrosa & Sarah Marino. It is a great starting point to some of the best places in Death Valley for exploring and photography. But obviously, one must go much further and deeper in researching to find unique places from which to photograph.
Some of the more difficult things to deal with is the number of footprints in the dunes and in some of the mud flat areas. The wind will typically alleviate the issue in the dunes, but I found it difficult to find places in Cottonball Basin that were not covered in footprints. You just had to work extra hard to find "clean" images that had not recently been explored. The footprints in the dunes did not pose much of a problem as the winds were really strong the first few days. But even though it made for cleaner images, it was sometimes an equipment nightmare with blowing sand working its way into camera, lenses, and my bag.
I think the one thing I learned upon my return trip is the difficulty in the dunes of coming away with images that were visually pleasing with all of the elements(blowing sand, lines, light, shadow, dunes, and mountains) arranged in a manner that would complement each other but yet help to emphasize the larger dunes in the background. On many occasions I succeeded, but in some cases, some of the images did not make the cut. Those I have put on my website I feel represent some of my best work from this area, and I am pleased and excited that many of these images will end up in my Gallery in Macon Ga. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite images from the trip.