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03/23/2010 02:03:26 AM · #1
I almost feel like I have to forfeit my photographer card admitting this, but I've never been to Death Valley and am finally going for the first time next week. Not only should the timing coincide well with the wildflowers, but also with the full moon (which is pretty damn important for night photographers like myself). :)

Since this will be my first time heading out there, I was hoping to get some tips from my fellow photogs on some of the best spots and best corresponding times to shoot those spots. I should probably mention up front that I'll probably miss the sunrises since I typically shoot late into the evening/morning. Sunset spot suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated though! Hell, any advice in general from people who have shot out there before would be uber-appreciated. :D Thanks!
03/23/2010 02:30:59 AM · #2
One obvious place--which you've probably picked up on, is the dunes at Stovepipe Wells. There is a nice campground too. Evening is better than morning IMO. Morning happens too fast, but the sunset light goes on and on.

The Racetrack is worth a visit but the road to will tear up your car's suspension and shake your bones loose. Maybe you'll get lucky and visit just after the road has been graded. My buddy's Land Cruiser still drops pieces once in a while, even 3 years later.

For something fun during the day. Find Redwall Canyon on a map and hike up it as far as you can. You should be able to scramble over a rockfall and get into the upper part of the canyon. There was a rope to assist climbers a few years ago. Middle of the day is fine because the canyon is fairly narrow. If you hike there, realize it takes about 45minutes - 1 hour of walking just to reach the mouth of the canyon from the road. It looks like a 10 minute stroll but looks are deceiving. I know there are other good canyon hikes as well.

The Lime Kilns are interesting and there might be some decent flowers near them. Badwater is worth a stop but I don't have any photo tips for you.

It's one of the most fantastic places i've ever visited. The desolation and the absence of scale is incredible...it's as if the landscape goes on forever.

I had a really great DV guide book of the "off the beaten" path variety but I've misplaced it or loaned it out. :(

Seriously, you've never been to DV? Better forfeit that card! :)
03/23/2010 06:24:50 AM · #3
Originally posted by cutlassdude70:

... I have to forfeit my photographer card admitting this, but I've never been to Death Valley ...

If this be true then I'd have to forfeit my membership to. I have been there a couple times years ago but took no pictures.

I agree with mpeters that Racetrack Playa is a great place to go. It is a world class daytime, post-sunset AND early evening photo op. Though I've not been there I have GPS points directing you to Racetrack Playa from Scotty's Castle if you'd like them. I've been dying to photograph it for a very, very long time. For that matter Scotty's Castle might make a good after dark subject to.

Message edited by author 2010-03-23 06:27:32.
03/23/2010 11:50:52 AM · #4
Death Valley NP is definitely one of my favorite places to photograph. Most of the places I like to go, such as Zabriskie Point, The Racetrack, Devil's Golf Course, etc, are best at sunrise though. My favorite place at sunset is the dunes at Stovepipe Wells.

I've camped at The Racetrack in order to shoot it at sunrise. There's aren't any services, so it's definitely "roughing it." I have a Subaru Outback that I've taken out there 4 times and it's no worse for the wear. One time I had to rescue a group from New York who got two flat tires in their Suburban. I don't think they had ever driven off pavement before. :-)

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_416191.jpg Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_856893.jpg Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_856894.jpg

I have a lot more Death Valley photos on my website, along with their EXIF info so you can tell when the photos were taken. Good luck!

//www.bryanbrazil.com/gallery/National%20Parks/Death%20Valley/

Message edited by author 2010-03-23 11:51:33.
03/25/2010 03:26:13 PM · #5
Thanks for the great tips, guys! :)

@mpeters - The dunes at Stovepipe Wells, the kilns, and Badwater were already floating around in my head, so I'll probably try to see all of them. Redwall Canyon sounds awesome as well, but I'll have my uncle with me most of the time and he has bad knees. Oh darn, an excuse to go back... ;)

@Artifacts - I'd LOVE GPS points from Scotty's Castle to Racetrack Playa! I definitely want to try and make it to the Playa, and have already double-checked that my uncle has a good spare tire for his truck. :) And you make a very good point - I may just have to try and get a night shot at Scotty's Castle.

@bryanbrazil - Holy crap, those are some awesome shots! :D Very inspiring images, and the EXIF is very useful. :) Thanks!

Anyone know any spots that tend to be great for wildflowers in rainy years?
03/25/2010 04:53:10 PM · #6
Glad to hear you have a truck for that run to The Racetrack. It's not for the faint of equipment.
Badwater (lowest elevation in the USA) is a must. Super lighting 1st thing in the morning. You can park right at a very good viewing/photography site, so your Uncles knees can be saved for more strenuous places. Also on that road is the Artist Palette, a paved loop with startling colors that is pretty good even in full daylight. If you try for the dunes, let Uncle stay near the truck where there is still plenty to photograph and inspect, but you go as far as you can into the dune area before sunup because the photography will be spectacular when the light hits it.

I wish I could remember where some unused kilns are in the park. About 5 or 6 of them all in a row nestled in the mountains. Probably on a map, somewhere.

Good luck and happy shooting. Wildflowers everywhere if it rains. If you 'look' there will still be some around no matter what the moisture conditions.

(LOL) I should have read some of the other posts before writing mine. Still, it gives you another endorsement of some of the special spots.

Message edited by author 2010-03-25 17:17:29.
03/25/2010 05:57:43 PM · #7
If you go to the Racetrack, be sure to drive to the end of it and park on the left side of the road at the turnout. The first time I went I parked at one of the earlier turnouts and walked all over the place without finding any moving rocks. Most of the rocks are at the far end.

If you do walk out into the middle of the Racetrack, you can see tracks from an airplane that I believe landed there many years ago while smuggling drugs.
03/26/2010 07:39:36 PM · #8
Originally posted by cutlassdude70:

Thanks...

@Artifacts - I'd LOVE GPS points from Scotty's Castle to Racetrack Playa! I definitely want to try and make it to the Playa, and have already double-checked that my uncle has a good spare tire for his truck. :) And you make a very good point - I may just have to try and get a night shot at Scotty's Castle.


GPS waypoints sent to info@seanpatrickmahoney.com email.

Message edited by author 2010-03-26 19:42:11.
03/26/2010 11:50:18 PM · #9
Originally posted by sfalice:



I wish I could remember where some unused kilns are in the park. About 5 or 6 of them all in a row nestled in the mountains. Probably on a map, somewhere.



I believe they are up Cottonwood Canyon. We were headed to hike up to Telescope Peak in March 06 and it ended up snowing 4-5" that night so we called off that quest and headed to lower ground. There is a shot of the kilns in this small gallery of mine. //www.pbase.com/markpetersphoto/death_valley_306

Funny story-- a Park Ranger stopped us while we leaving the campground and headed to the Racetrack. He took one look at the Range Rover, inspected all the tires and informed us that we shouldn't go without two spare tires. That's right, TWO! We laughed until we had chattered through the first 3 miles of washboard. It's worth the rough ride though!
03/27/2010 12:01:42 AM · #10
I'm in a motel in DV right now, and the blooms haven't started yet. Still a lot of frost on the ground
03/28/2010 03:46:40 PM · #11
Many thanks to everyone that has posted such helpful info! :) And thanks for the heads-up Jdroullard. Maybe we'll luck out and the blooms will start this week as it warms up. I also heard it may rain on Thursday, so maybe that will coax the blooms out. ;)

Worst case, it sounds like there are plenty of great photo ops there anyway. After reading everyone's suggestions and doing some research of my own, I think I'll try and see the following during the 4 days I'm there this coming week: the dunes at Stovepipe Wells, Racetrack Playa, Badwater Basin, Charcoal Kilns, Devil's Golf Course, Mosaic Canyon, Artist's Palette, Scotty's Castle, Zabriskie Point, and Rhyolite. Thanks again, everyone!
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