Archive for February, 2010

A California Moonscape

February 25, 2010

A California scene that might easily be confused for Arizona or Utah.

A scene more common to the deserts of Utah and Arizona can be found right here in the Mojave Desert of California. It just might take a lot more seaching to find something you like since there are no iconic "stand here" spots so it’s best to just wander and create your own stand here spot. Then you can always return when you like with no worries about the crowd. This is one of the goals in life so I can hopefully leave something behind besides just pretty photographs.

With so much nature out there do we need these so called stand here spots where it doesn’t change much a few yards over to the left or right?

It’s been 25 days since my last so called iconic visit, I’m going to see how long this will last. I think I can do 100 days piece of cake.

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery


How Long Will the Basin in Badwater be Flooded?

February 11, 2010

Badwater January 31st, 2010

I received an email from another photographer / friend asking about the water in Badwater and how long will it last there. I visit Death Valley during the late winter and early spring sometimes more than once a month, after all it is my favorite National park.

Greg Russel: Hi, Steve. I’ve been enjoying your recent Death Valley photos, and have been contemplating a trip myself, in hopes of photographing Badwater with water actually present.

Based on your observations, how much longer do you think water will be present? I can’t make it this weekend, but was possibly thinking of one of the following 2–almost 1 month after you took your photos. I would think this recent rain would prolong the life of the lake, so to speak.

Any experiences would help me plan my trip! Thanks, and cheers,

Me (Steve): That is a really tough item to guestimate Greg. There was water last year for a very short period of time but this year there are two lakes on the salt flats in the valley. The water seeps into the ground and the salt naturally soaks it up or it just evaporates all too quickly from heat as it slowly gets warmer. Right now the temperatures aren’t getting hot enough for the water to evaporate and there are steady flows of very slowly moving water into Badwater. With almost an inch over average for this time of year and the possibility of more storms on the way you have a good chance the water will still be there when you show up in March but no guarantees, a heat wave with out any rain could evaporate it all. A mild El Nino has been predicted this year compared to what we had in 2004-2005. Most plan B’s are pretty good in Death Valley and there is always something close by if you do not have an alternate plan.

Floating salt crystals

When we talk about water in Death Valley, we think wildflowers. It’s still too early to predict when the peak bloom will be but rangers have mentioned possibly late March to early April and the valley near Scotty’s Castle and Mormon Point just south of Badwater look the most promising from the recent rains we’ve had.

Desert Gold in a Sandstorm
Desert Gold blowing in a sandstorm

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery

For All or Kept Secret?

February 6, 2010

Petrified tree stump

If you heard of old petrified forest somewhere in California or which ever state you are in, would you go looking for it? If you found it would you tell everyone on facebook or a particular web forum where it is? Or would you think about it’s conservation?

I have posted this outside of my blog so I do apologize if you have seen it already but I did add the picture.

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery

Life at Badwater

February 5, 2010

Life existed - Death Valley Badwater Salt Flats at dusk.

Twenty thousand years ago Death Valley was submerged by a lake 600ft deep. Could you imagine a place such as Badwater to be actually green at one time in the past? Life did exist here and that is the feeling I wanted to capture in this image. The unique clouds in the sky and hovering planet float above the basin like a spirits in the sky.

When something is seen in the skies that is unusual or uncommon, it’s easy to just say that is not real or it’s trick. The photographer might be trying to fool us, “we’ll have to keep an eye him and catch him sometime.” I can’t blame anyone for thinking that way, I’ve seen some odd things and have thought the same thing myself. The only way I can find a way to relate this to anyone is if you have actually stood in the Owens Valley long after the sunset glow has dissappeared and seen the oddly shaped lenticular clouds catch their light so long after every other cloud has lost it’s color. If you have seen this you know the clouds must be so high up in the atmosphere for this to occur. At the time of this capture I was a hundred miles east of the Owens Valley so I’m seeing the backside of one of these so called UFO’s. We all know the most famous guy for photographing these lenticular clouds so I don’t need to mention his name but he does have a nice example on page 5 of his Eastern Sierra gallery in color.

There is a little bit of unnaturalness happening here, I did use my i-phone to light up the dead stems during the long exposure. That isn’t much light so I don’t know if we could call it light painting. As for that planet there in the sky, I’m not an astronomer and I do not know which one it is but I did take this a few days earlier this week.

If you have any questions on how this was photo was created or think it’s not real either way I would love to hear it. If you are into night photography or it’s not your cup of tea please feel free to voice your thoughts and opinions.

One last thing there is life on the badwater basin, it’s a microscopic bug called an extremophile, it thrives in the 120 degree heat of summer and it’s name suites it well. What kind of slang could we call them, fire lice maybe? hmmm.. .

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery