Death Valley – Eastern Sierra Photo Tour Part 4

To see the complete Eastern Sierra slideshow watch the video above or click here. Video has music so make sure to have the volume on.


After finishing up at Yosemite National Park we made our all night journey to Death Valley National Park. Driving on two hours of sleep we made it all the way to Lone Pine and could not drive on. So we headed up to Alabama Hills and slept until sunrise. We got some good light and even got some keeper images. After finishing we all packed up in the cars and headed to Death Valley. I personally have never been there so this was very exciting for me. Later that afternoon we arrived in Death Valley and tried to map out where we wanted to be for sunset. A group majority decision to shoot in Mesquite dunes was the next calling. After seeing so many stunning images from this area, I wondered how was I ever going to be able to compete with that. We made the hike into the dunes and as the sun began to set I still had not found anything I liked.


With a few more minutes to sunset I saw a nicely shaped dune on the horizon but it was going to be a big risk if I did not make it there in time. The thing with the dunes is you want to maximize contrast and that means getting one side lit by the sun and the other in shadow to get the most dramatic images out of the scene. Again I found myself running like a mad man trying to make it there on time. I was able to get a few shots off before the sun disappeared behind the mountains. As the rest of the gang headed back to the car I stayed awhile to shoot some twilight images – BIG MISTAKE! I waited a little to long and now I had no idea of the direction of where the car was and it was dark. Scared and confused I prepared for the worst. I tried to remain calm and backtrack to where I could footsteps. I eventually found some and followed them out of the dunes. I have no sense of direction and this proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I finally made it back to the car and frustrated and hungry we headed for the nearest restaurant.


Next morning we decided to make the journey out to Badwater, which is the area where salt flats create unique octagons. To get there in time we had to be there super early as the hike onto the flats takes about half an hour. Leaving at four in the morning and making the long drive we made it to Badwater and we were behind as light was already beginning and we had not even started the hike. Again I found myself running to get there in time. As I dropped my bag and threw everything onto the ground I reached to shoot a few shots off before the light disappeared. The problem was nothing was happening and I realized I had forgotten my camera battery on the charger. I looked over to my friend who also had a Canon 5D Mk 2 and begged him for his back up battery. He looked at me and said you are one lucky guy that I have the same camera and backup battery. I was able to get the last of sunrise light and found some unique foreground patterns that complemented the light on the mountain peaks. We made the hike back to the car and all I could think was boy do I have to get my act together! From here we headed back to the motel situated right in the heart of Death Valley.


Upon returning to the room I noticed my sleeping blankets and pillow that I carry with me all the time were gone. I carry these items always when I travel because I am paranoid of what is on the sheets. This might be because of a recent trip to Arizona where my wife pulled back the bed sheets to uncover a bed full of dead rats and some under the pillows. Since then I will not sleep in a hotel without bringing my own stuff. Needless to say I returned to find my stuff missing. Why in the heck would anyone want my pillow – I mean seriously – drool and what else was on it. This had to be the strangest thing. After talking to a manager he told me to return another day and he would try to track it down. With that in mind we headed to Bishop to shoot sunrise and Mount Tom. I will continue the last of the adventure in the next few days. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed it.


~ by kevinmcneal on March 9, 2009.

9 Responses to “Death Valley – Eastern Sierra Photo Tour Part 4”

  1. Beautiful as always Kevin. I envy you 🙂

  2. As always Kevin, your photography is inspiring and a great force to get me off my lazy bum and out there taking more photographs. Thanks!

  3. wow that first dune shot is stunning!
    fantastic ripples in the foreground.

    i also really like the 2nd salt pan shot.
    such unique foreground

  4. good photos Kevin, I especially like the dunes and shadows.

  5. Stunning shots Kevin! I am totally blown away by the fantastic light and atmosphere you all get on your trips. It never works out so perfectly for me… especially the Badwater and Mesquite Dunes pictures are incredible. I bet they’ll look awesome printed.

  6. It’s a good thing you found your way out of the desert…these images are amazing!!!

  7. Hi Kevin.

    Outstanding set of images from the desert!
    Made a deep impression on me and also is amazing to look at the execution and technical quality as well.

    Great work Kevin.

    Seung Kye Lee

  8. glad you found your way out of those dunes, love that last image,beautiful!

  9. Your photos are breathtaking – absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: