Ron and I are thrilled to announce the publication of our second e-book, Desert Paradise: The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park. Coming in at more than 130 pages with over 150 portfolio-quality photographs, we hope this guide will serve as an excellent reference for landscape photographers of all skill levels who are interested in visiting Death Valley.
I am often asked by both photographers and non-photographers about my favorite place to photograph. I cannot offer a single answer but can say that Death Valley National Park and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains get to share that top spot on my list. The San Juan Mountains are understandable to most people, but Death Valley? Really?! Yes, really!
The park’s surreal landscapes are incredibly diverse and quite unusual, creating especially interesting opportunities for photography. The light on the edges of the day changes the landscape more than any other place I have visited. The features are endlessly captivating – playas, salt flats, sand dunes, Joshua trees, extensive badlands, rugged mountains, and fascinating geology. Combine these elements and Death Valley really is a desert paradise and a quite accessible one for anyone living in the United States.
My parents, after their first trip to the park, gave me a book on Death Valley and I became quickly enchanted with the landscape portrayed in the photos. Could all of these surreal and really incredible things actually exist all in one place, a place that was within a day’s drive of my home? Years later, my first visit to the park lasted for less than 24 hours and was not the best of experiences because of the extreme heat of summer, but finally standing out on the Badwater Salt Flats and seeing the expansive, colorful badlands around Zabriskie Point for myself were enough to start what has since become a love affair with the park.
Since that first trip, I have returned many times to extensively explore and photograph the park, each time deepening my affinity for the Death Valley’s landscapes. Now, to be able to write a book showcasing my photography of Death Valley and to share my love of the park’s landscapes with other photographers is really a special joy and privilege.
If you do not have Death Valley on your list of photography destinations or need some reasons to move it up to a higher slot, here are a few more things for you to consider:
- Death Valley has something for every landscape and nature photographer. The park offers a very wide variety of subjects for photography, including extensive possibilities for grand landscapes, intimates, abstracts, and macro photography. Even on clear days – often a major frustration for landscape photographers – Death Valley offers all kinds of options. The diversity of subjects makes the park an excellent place for a dedicated photography trip because there is so much to explore and photograph, with many accessible locations for people who prefer to stay in a motel or campground and hundreds of miles of backcountry roads for those who want to get off the beaten path.
- And speaking of exploring… A willingness to explore is rewarded in Death Valley. We have found all kinds of interesting features just from getting out of our car and walking around. And, because the salt flats and playas can change from season to season with the cycle of rain and evaporation, many of the park’s landscapes can offer up all kinds of new and interesting things on repeat visits.
- Death Valley National Park is home to six distinct and quite different fields of sand dunes, three of which are fairly accessible. Many of these dunes are surrounded by interesting mountains and filled with little sections of interdunal playas, offering up endless options for exploring and photography.
- You can find things in Death Valley that exist in few other places on this planet (or nowhere else at all) – gigantic Joshua trees, the Racetrack playa and its moving rocks, and the feisty little Salt Creek pupfish for example. Death Valley is also home to the hottest recorded temperature on earth, and is the lowest and driest place in North America.
- The park has more than 200 square miles of salt flats. While many photographers are familiar with the white polygons of Badwater Basin, the salt pan is actually much larger and more diverse than many people realize. With a little exploring, a photographer can find all kinds of interesting features in this expansive and fascinating area and the other playas that are scattered across the park.
- Death Valley is a perfect “off-season” destination. The park is a great place to visit between November and March when most of the rest of the United States is under the blanket of winter.
So with this list (and many more items covered in our e-book), I hope I have made my case that Death Valley National Park should be near the top of any landscape photographer’s life list of destinations as it really is an incredible place. And, if you need some help planning your trip to the park, we hope our e-book will serve as the ultimate trip planning resource (you can learn more about the e-book at NaturePhotoGuides.com).