Monday, April 19, 2010

Marc Muench Workshop in Death Valley

I was born and raised in California and have never gone to Death Valley. I was one of those ignorant people that assumed that Death Valley was all sand dunes with no color and more importantly nothing exciting to take pictures of. Was I wrong, very wrong. My experience with Death Valley during this workshop has opened my eyes to brilliant colors and beauty that Death Valley has to offer. In the few days that I visited the Desert National Park, I only witnessed a fraction of what Death Valley has to offer.

Day 1:
The whole group met at Stove Pipe Wells where we would call home for the next few days. That evening, we went to the Dunes to take some late day to dusk pictures. Anytime I go on a photo trip, I tend to take a day or so to become acclimated to my surroundings in order to see shoots. Usually the first day I am just scrambling to take shots but not really paying attention to details or composition.

Here are a few attempts to capture desert lines and the very cool line patterns of the dunes.

My only color shot of the day

I saw a few lizards running along the sand leaving  behind a few tracks that broke the wavy patterns of the dunes

This is my attempt at a self portrait

Day 2:
We started this day early. Up by 5:00 a.m. and out the door by 5:30 am to catch the van to this morning's shoot...Bad Water and Artists Palette. Mother Nature just did not cooperate today but I still took a few shots. The light was a little flat and bad water hadn't dried up enough to make the edges of the geometric-shapes curl up. I heard the edges of these shapes can curl up to 2 feet. Maybe next time.

Bad Water

Artists Palette

After breakfast and a short break, we went out to shoot some of the wild flowers that are in bloom during this part of the year.

There was not much wild life to speak of but I did however see these little red bugs. They were so small, at first I did not notice them. Once I laid down on the ground to capture the flowers, I saw these little buggers everywhere.

This is my one attempt at IR with plant life.

Later in the afternoon, we went out to capture the sunset. I do not remember the exact location where these pics were taken but Andy and Marc found this spot on their last trip. This was the only water I saw on the trip and with the heavy amounts of salt, it looked like icy waters. A very cool Desert trick.

Jamie modeling a chunk of salt crystal. Please do not fret or send me emails, I did put the salt back ;-)

Day 3 "the finale"
By far, day 3 was the best day of any workshop i have been on. It was just a very fun day hanging out with the other photographers and witnessing a phoneme that no one has explained with confidence.....We went to the "Race Track"

On the way to the Race Track, we stopped to take a few quick snap shots of a very beautiful place. The ground was covered in volcanic pebbles with bright purple flowers carpeting the ground.

Back into the van and off to the Race Track. On the way we saw a great sign that is very famous.

The Tea Kettle Junction Sign

When we arrived at Race Track Playa, we first took some pictures on the north end of the Playa which is slightly elevated over the southern end by a mountain that is slowly pushy itself up and out of the Playa.

Like an iceburg, we only can see the tip.

We had a lot of fun on this little mountain on the Playa. Here is Marc doing is famous pose.

I am just happy I made it to the top. To celebrate I took off my shirt and enjoyed the cool breeze blowing at gusts of 40mph. A few others in our group got down to their bare essentials but since this is a "G" rated site, I won't post those :-D

Once we got the the southern part of the Playa, the fun didn't stop. We had to burn a few hours before the light was good. So what better to do than take a short nap.

Scott taking a quick snooze

Once the sun was low on the horizon and the shadows were long, shooting commenced.

What a great trip, with great people and a fantastic place to shoot. I will end this thread with a picture of the dunes that I always thought was the only subject Death Valley had to offer of any interest. I am so glad I has proven so wrong.

Just for your amusement, I added a very short film Marc Muench Took of me with my lens cap rolling away at high speeds on the Playa in Death Valley. The wind gusts sometimes were fierce.

PLease click here --> The Answer to Why the Rocks Move on the Playa


Nathan Ciurzynski said...

Beautiful shots! I'm off to Death Valley this Tuesday evening to do some photography there myself. First time there so I'm not expecting much but I can't wait nonetheless.

dadwtwins said...

It is a mysterious place with lots of wonder, enjoy your trip. Please share your pictures when you get back, I would love to see what you saw this time of year.