There are far too many sites to see in Death Valley in a single weekend or even over the course of a month, especially if there is a camera in tow. There are the obvious locations such as Devil’s Golf Course and the Salt Flats at Badwater, the Dunes near Stovepipe Wells, Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, and Racetrack Playa as examples. With the geology and geography of Death Valley, the views and locations to experience and explore are nearly anywhere you turn. For me, this results in my pulling off the road and stopping the car rather frequently to take photographs when I see a scene that catches my eye. In fact, 3 bicyclists on Scotty Castle Road and I were essentially playing leapfrog for a stretch. I would pass them, then have them pass me as I invariably pull off the road to shoot photos, and then I pass them back as I resume driving, repeat.
One view I kept trying to capture on this particular day were the stratified layers of the Panamint Range across the floor of Death Valley. Living near the Sierra foothills, layered hills are not uncommon, but usually not with the sheer amount of layers seen here – seven. Layered hills have always been a draw for me. Perhaps the subtle changes in hues is what draws me in, where light and color define the depth of view where sometimes the details do not. Now, a little background. I had spent the previous evening and the following morning photographing the “sailing rocks” at The Racetrack Playa.
Processing Notes: There was some back and forth here on whether to leave the photograph in color – mostly shades of blue with a tinge of yellow in the small amount of sunlit areas, or to convert to monochrome in Silver Efex Pro 2. Three approaches of color or monochrome were completed. Ultimately I went with the monochrome version cropped to a 16×9 format to remove some of the sky and foreground to keep the focus on the mountains.
Also, the natural angle of the scene is from right to left, but as with landscape photographs, if there is a tilt in the primary horizon of a photo, it will leave the line of sight out of the composition, which is not the intent here. If I were shoot this composition wide-angle with more of the valley, I would likely leave the tilt to show the flow of the mountains into the valley. In this instance, I straightened the horizon.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 240mm, f/10, 1/250 sec
Death Valley (CA), Panamint Range, Monochrome Shades, Backlight. Scotty Castle Road, Death Valley, CA. November 26, 2016. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.