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Author Topic: Death Valley Sunrises and Sunsets  (Read 9133 times)
marvls
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« on: February 11, 2007, 09:59:24 PM »
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I'll be spending most of the week of March 17 in Death Valley with the following locations chosen for those key light moments.
Sunrises:  Zabriskie Pt, Ubehebe Crater, Sand Dunes, Aguereberry Point
Sunsets: Dante's View, Artiste's Palette, Racetrack, Sand Dunes, Badwater
Two questions:
1) Any suggestions on changes (eg sunrise for sunset or vice versa) or additions as I have flexibility in my schedule.
2) I will have GPS with me and try to Geotag my pictures when I return.  Does anyone have GPS coordinates (as used in Geocaching) or sources for same for ideal photo hikes or photo locations?
Thanks,
Marv
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2007, 10:34:32 PM »
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I don't have any personal recommendations (I'll be there about 2 weeks after you on my first visit ever).

But keep in mind that Daylight Savings starts early this year in the U.S., on March 11th.  This may affect your timing for sunrise and sunset.

Paul
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B-Ark
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2007, 05:56:20 AM »
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You might also consider the Eureka Dunes for sunset.
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oboguev
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2007, 10:35:35 PM »
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I'd move Agueryberry Point to the "sunset" category or rather "2-3 hrs before sunset", Mesquite Dunes and Devil's Cornfield to the "sunrise" category and possibly add:

AM (after sunset): Titus canyon

daytime: Cactus patch
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danmitch
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2007, 10:00:02 PM »
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I've had success at the Racetrack at dawn as well. I was at the south end with an open view to the west where the early light illuminated distant ridges and clouds.
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Eric Brody
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2007, 09:32:50 PM »
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Can't you just roam around, spend a little time and enjoy yourself rather than using someone else's locations via GPS? Has photography become something where you use "magic" locations, by definition photographed by others before you.

Try being independent, you might just get some interesting images. Or... you can stand at a some pre-arranged "viewpoint" and mimic others.

Good luck.

Eric
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Jae_Moon
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2007, 10:55:50 AM »
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Quote
I'll be spending most of the week of March 17 in Death Valley with the following locations chosen for those key light moments.
Sunrises:  Zabriskie Pt, Ubehebe Crater, Sand Dunes, Aguereberry Point
Sunsets: Dante's View, Artiste's Palette, Racetrack, Sand Dunes, Badwater
Two questions:
1) Any suggestions on changes (eg sunrise for sunset or vice versa) or additions as I have flexibility in my schedule.
2) I will have GPS with me and try to Geotag my pictures when I return.  Does anyone have GPS coordinates (as used in Geocaching) or sources for same for ideal photo hikes or photo locations?
Thanks,
Marv
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100417\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Marv:

I just returned from 5 days of trip to the Death Valley NP.

A couple comments based on my experiences:

1. Sunrise/sunset time provided by Furnace Creek Ranch are not reliable, especially the sunset. During 16th and 20th, you should be at the location by 5:45 am for sunrise (for all locations you listed). Sunset varies. At Racetrack, it was 3:45 pm (to shade the crawling rocks), at Dante's View, it was 4:30pm (to shade the salt flat), and Sand dunes was at 4:30 pm. The info from FCR was 5:33 pm for sunset. I saw many people arriving at sunset location too late.

2. Access to Racetrack is good. It is a gravel road and you can drive up to 35-40 mph without any problem. There were many cars on the road (the Presidents' Day holiday) and I saw car with flat tire. Allow up to 3 hours from FC Information Center to Racetrack, depends on your driving speed.
The crawling rocks are located at SW corner of the Racetrack, about 3/4 mile past the Grand Stand.

3. For Dante's View, the southern observation point from parking lot provides better view, looking NW while Sun is setting on your left.

4. Titus Canyon, Mosaic Canyon were interesting but not super photogenic, to my taste.

5. Eureka dune takes 6 hours round trip from the Information Center, not worth the trouble.

6. Stovepipe Dune needs a good wind storm to clear up foot tracks and reshape many broken ridge lines.

Enjoy the trip.

Jae Moon
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2007, 11:46:46 AM »
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I too got back recently from a week in DV in late January. I will echo most of Jae comments and add that for me it was worth while hitting fewer spots and making repeat visits to several (three Zabriskie sunrises, four visits to the Stovepipe Wells Dunes, for example -- morning and afternoon.)

One tip I discovered on my own about the Stovepipe Wells Dunes: Don't park in the area where the signs are, which is about 2 miles from the SW complex. Walking in from the road there requires you to cross endless "transverse dunes" while trying to get to the interesting "star dunes" (th biggest ones.) You can save a good 20 minutes of walking time by parking nearer to SW, about a half mile from the buildings. From there you walk mostly across hard-packed salt playa (?) before starting into the dunes much closer to the nice, big ones. Since most tourists walk in from the signs, there are fewer footprints if you go in the way I suggest.

Contrary to much of what I had heard, there were good light and interesting subjects all day every day, just wandering around. I'll post a couple of images here shortly.

Have a great trip!

P.S. Weather in late January was fantastic. Highs in the upper 60s (73 on a couple of "hot" days), cooling to the lower fifties (and a couple of 48s) at night. Clear blue sky all day (light thin clouds one day), and fewer photographers and tourists than you'll see in March (although Zabriskie Point had 6 or 8 every morning.)
« Last Edit: February 21, 2007, 11:49:00 AM by EricM » Logged

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danmitch
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2007, 10:03:34 PM »
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I sort of liked the advice from the person who suggested not going where everyone else goes and shooting the same standard scenes. On the other hand, if you have never been there before, well, Death Valley is a HUGE place, and you could wander around a long time before finding the right spot. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea to start at some of the popular places. Even they can be special if you happen to catch the right light and conditions.

Have a great trip!

Dan

(From some of the descriptions, it sounds like perhaps the Park has done some maintenance on the Racetrack Road? Last year at this time is was astonishingly bad, but some people this year are describing a decent surface. Last year there was no way you could drive it at 35-40 mph.)
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BillK
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2007, 11:06:18 PM »
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I was there last week and while there are a few stretches where
you can do 35-40MPH on the racetrack road, the majority of it
is more like 20MPH. Unless you are driving a off-road racing vehicle.

I drive a 3/4 ton 4x4 and have been known to drive 50+ on a "good"
dirt road.

BTW here is a link to a post I made over at Fred Miranda with some
shots I made of the salt flats near Badwater.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/511953


Bill
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Harley
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2007, 02:56:18 PM »
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I also drive a 4wd truck with offroad tires. You can drive 45mph, but you are asking for a flat. The road to the Bristlecones in the Whites Mt.s is better than the Racetrack road, and I have had two flat there going fast.  To me, it is worth going slower to increase the chances of getting there.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2007, 06:20:13 PM »
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I also drive a 4wd truck with offroad tires. You can drive 45mph, but you are asking for a flat. The road to the Bristlecones in the Whites Mt.s is better than the Racetrack road, and I have had two flat there going fast.  To me, it is worth going slower to increase the chances of getting there.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=103838\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I agree completely: Go slow and you'll get there safely, and see more along the way. I did the Bristlecone road years ago in a sedan (2WD) and had no problem. I didn't get to the racetrack in DV this trip, but I drove my rented AWD SUV as if it were a sedan and had no problem on any of the roads I tried. A couple of side canyon roads I quit early on, because they would have required a speed under 10 mph.
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juanpizarro
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2007, 04:57:13 PM »
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...I will have GPS with me and try to Geotag my pictures when I return...

Marv,

Unfortunately, no on has added Death Valley locations at OutdoorPhotoOp.com (OPO) yet.  If you do geotag your photos, would you consider adding some of your favorites to OPO when you get back?  I can send a simple Excel spread sheet to fill out that makes the process fairly simple.  That way, we'll have DV locations for the future   .

Thanks,

John
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howiesmith
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2007, 03:30:37 PM »
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I'll be spending most of the week of March 17 in Death Valley with the following locations chosen for those key light moments.
Sunrises:  Zabriskie Pt, Ubehebe Crater, Sand Dunes, Aguereberry Point
Sunsets: Dante's View, Artiste's Palette, Racetrack, Sand Dunes, Badwater
Two questions:
1) Any suggestions on changes (eg sunrise for sunset or vice versa) or additions as I have flexibility in my schedule.
2) I will have GPS with me and try to Geotag my pictures when I return.  Does anyone have GPS coordinates (as used in Geocaching) or sources for same for ideal photo hikes or photo locations?
Thanks,
Marv
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100417\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
You do not need GPS.  Death VAlley is very well mapped with points of interest well marked both on maps and signs along the highway.

Death Valley is huge.  You will be able to shoot one sunrise and ome sunset location per day.  You just cannot get from one location to the next during happy hour light.

I would not plan to dash from one spot to the next at speed.  The speed limits are low and enforced.  Besides, the scenery is desert but well worth looking at at a moderate pace.

Death Valley is a very mature sublect - photographed many times at many times of day by very good, well prepared and equiped photographers.  The chances of a single person stumbling a "new" shot are remote.  I wouldn't plan on getting a unique great American photo in one trip.  You will require a very mature treatment on any subject.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with touring around to all the icon spots, taking icon photos.  But look around as you go.  A good stop is the Visitor's Center at Furnace Creek.  They have many photos os the good spots.

Above all, be prepred for weather changes and changes in other circumstances.  While help is usually available in time, don't rely on someone else saving your bacon and digital images.

I was in Death Valley area a couple weeks ago.  The Saline Valley road was "closed."  No idea what that really means except help will be less frequent and a Ranger isn't going to break his back to come get you.

Slow down, smell the coffee, and have fun.  Avoid seeing the place on your computer screen whrn you edit your several thousand photos.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2007, 06:34:12 PM »
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After my recent week in Death Valley, I have to agree with everything Howie says. Even the icon spots are worth going back to more than once. I did three Zabriskie sunrises and several visits to the Stovepipe Wells sand dunes, and the repeat visits brought my best shots.

I hope you get as good weather as I had.
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danmitch
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2007, 09:40:09 PM »
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I'll be out there around the first weekend in April - in time for the April 2 full moon I hope. Planning to revisit the Racetrack and hit some of the dunes further north in the park. As time permits (I may have 4-5 days :-) I'll revisit a few spots I've shot before including some of the standards.

I agree that it is very tough to "do" sunset (or sunrise) at more than one place in a park the size of Death Valley. The distance scale is different than other continental US national parks - more like Alaska. My approach is to spend a good chunk of time in each area before moving on.

There are some areas where you can hit more than one area in fairly short order. For example Badwater and Zabriskie aren't too far apart. But still...

Dan
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howiesmith
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2007, 08:54:23 AM »
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There are some areas where you can hit more than one area in fairly short order. For example Badwater and Zabriskie aren't too far apart. But still...

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=104936\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Badwater to Zabriskie is about 45 miles.  It's good road but it will take a minimum of an hour.  There is a speed limit and other tourists to consider.  Add to that the time to load/unload your gear, get to/from the spot, and you can easily burn a couple hours between frames.  And that means not seeing much (if anything) between Badwater and Zabriskie.  Possible perhaps, but I wouldn't try to get two good shots on the same sunrise/sunset.

I would advise going slow.  Death Valley NP is about the size of Connecticut.  Seeing it all in a couple days just isn't going to happen, so don't try.  A sunrise and a sunset a day is plenty.

According to the Park Service, the biggest hazard to you is the single car rollover.  This is usually caused by drivibg too fast and not watching the road.  Leave the hard surface into soft sand and it's an accident.
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danmitchell
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2007, 11:11:51 PM »
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I don't have any personal recommendations (I'll be there about 2 weeks after you on my first visit ever)...
Paul
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Sounds like we'll be there at about the same time. I plan to be there for 4-5 days at the start of April, timing my visit for the full moon. I'll hit the Racetrack on one evening, night, and early morning. After that we'll see...

Dan

(Fourth trip to Death Valley)
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JLK
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2007, 10:02:41 AM »
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Just got back from a few days in DV (pre-PMA).

One area that I hadn't seen mentioned was Salt Creek (between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells). Hiking in via the boardwalk, and then continuing on the obvious trail past that to some small ponds is a great place to be for sunset---hills, mountains in the distance, reflecting water, salt flats, vegetation...
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2007, 12:01:12 PM »
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Two additions:

Sunrise: Zabriski, but take the longer trail out to the point to your right as you leave the parking lot, not the easier road to the left where everybody else is heading.  This puts Manley Beacon right in front of you and it is usually the first thing to light up.

Sunset: Devil's Golf Course, hiking about 1/4 mile west from the parking lot puts you out into the middle of salt field.  A short lens from a low vantage point yeilds unique images, especially if the sunset happens big...

Cheers and post some images when you get back!
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 12:03:33 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

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