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Author Topic: Death Valley  (Read 4676 times)
kikashi
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« on: November 14, 2013, 02:32:41 PM »
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I went there last year and managed one or two decent shots at Zabriskie Point and the dunes near Stovepipe Wells.

I'm planning another trip next March and would be interested in any tips anyone could offer. I've come across a book by Shellye Poster, on Amazon: The Photographer's Guide to Death Valley: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them which if it does what it says on the cover might be quite useful. Has anyone here read it?

Jeremy
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 07:17:12 AM »
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I went there last year and managed one or two decent shots at Zabriskie Point and the dunes near Stovepipe Wells.

I'm planning another trip next March and would be interested in any tips anyone could offer. I've come across a book by Shellye Poster, on Amazon: The Photographer's Guide to Death Valley: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them which if it does what it says on the cover might be quite useful. Has anyone here read it?

Jeremy

Jeremy,

I have the book you refer to above.  It is useful to first time visitors, especially if you want to photograph the iconic sites in the park.  It does not have much on the less visited/accessible locales.

I recommend you take a look at Death Valley and the Northern Mojave by William C. Tweed and Lauren Davis.  It treats the routes less travelled (with directions) and it has some beautiful photographs.  If you have the time and the inclination, Death Valley and the Amargosa by Richard E. Lingenfelter is a superb read.  And of course, the final word on Death Valley backcountry is Michel Digonnet.  He has just come out with his latest tome "Hiking the Mojave Desert."

Steve Hall has an excellent website of all the hiking he has done in Death Valley - it offers good ideas for photographers.

http://www.panamintcity.com

And you can ask specific questions on this forum -

http://www.death-valley.net/forum/

PS: In March you have the chance of catching the Valley in bloom, if you time yourself just right.  Janet Westbrook keeps tabs on the wildflowers -

http://www.maturango.org/janetmuseumpages/deathvalley/DeathValley.html



« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 07:21:33 AM by Rajan Parrikar » Logged

kikashi
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 01:09:22 PM »
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Thanks, Rajan. That's very helpful.

Jeremy
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robertDthomas
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 05:44:25 AM »
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I have been to Death Valley twice for several days of photography - really enjoyed it.  Just reading your helpful response with all the links to sites with info makes me want to go back. Smiley
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MarkM
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 10:26:51 PM »
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My advise is to stop taking the shots everyone tells you to take and look around for yourself. The world does not need any more shots of Zabriskie Point or Mesquite Flat Dunes unless you really have something interesting to say about them. Death Valley is huge; there's plenty to find that hasn't been explored to death.

Forget the books about where to find perfect shots and try to discover the place with your own eyes. The 'perfect' shots are only perfect because they've been etched into our collective memories by countless photographers imitating a postcard they once saw. 

If you want to read something beforehand, find a book on the history, geography, of biology of the area and let that inform your work.

This must be ten years old by now, but it still applies when it comes to shooting out iconic subjects: The Landscape Photography Repertoire
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langier
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 12:33:30 AM »
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+1

And that goes for Yosemite, Bryce, Zion, the Southwest and all other places. Sure, the first time or two, be a copiest, then create a new vision or find a new POV.

I find when I'm at Zabriski, I shoot the people shooting the landscape. Same for Yosemite. Intimate details are nice also since most pass them by to get to the same old spots.

My photos are more of a challenge and a lot more satisfying than another same old, same old. There's still a lot of new things there  to find if you know how to see.
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 08:53:55 AM »
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Jeremy asked for specific information, not gratuitous advice.
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MarkM
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 09:36:14 AM »
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Jeremy asked for specific information, not gratuitous advice.

Specific information? Really? I read "would be interested in any tips anyone could offer." Doesn't get much less specific than that. My tip was to forget these books and discover the place yourself. I'll stand by that

Listen, we all go through the process of shooting in other people's tripod holes when we're starting out. We've all stopped by the gas station postcard rack to see where the 'good' views are.  It's no gratuitous advice to recommend that people get through this stage as quickly as possible.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 11:18:30 AM »
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My "specific information" would be to watch the weather.  Stormy weather (or even more specifcally the end of stormy weather) in DV can be very rewarding.

I always stop at Zabriskie Point.  At dawn, if I can arrange it.  Just walking around and casually eavesdropping on the conversations is an education.



Plus, as langier said, you can always shoot the photographers.
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 12:59:12 PM »
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Peter, great shot!

Yes, Zabriskie at dawn is worth it.  These are iconic sites for a reason, and there is such a thing as experiencing those moments.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2013, 01:59:36 PM »
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Peter, great shot!

Yes, Zabriskie at dawn is worth it.  These are iconic sites for a reason, and there is such a thing as experiencing those moments.
I totally agree.
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kikashi
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2013, 11:14:44 AM »
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Specific information? Really? I read "would be interested in any tips anyone could offer." Doesn't get much less specific than that. My tip was to forget these books and discover the place yourself. I'll stand by that

Listen, we all go through the process of shooting in other people's tripod holes when we're starting out. We've all stopped by the gas station postcard rack to see where the 'good' views are.  It's no gratuitous advice to recommend that people get through this stage as quickly as possible.


I asked for tips about Death Valley, not for advice on photography which, while perhaps well meant, managed to be trite and patronising, an attitude which persists in this response.

Whether or not "the world" in general needs more photographs of a particular scene, none was taken by me and none graces my walls. Death Valley is, as you observe, huge, and since I have but three days or so to spend there, I asked for some pointers to assistance. Rajan helped; you didn't.

Jeremy
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MarkM
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2013, 02:10:11 PM »
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I asked for tips about Death Valley, not for advice on photography which, while perhaps well meant, managed to be trite and patronising, an attitude which persists in this response.

Whether or not "the world" in general needs more photographs of a particular scene, none was taken by me and none graces my walls. Death Valley is, as you observe, huge, and since I have but three days or so to spend there, I asked for some pointers to assistance. Rajan helped; you didn't.

Jeremy

I guess we won't know whether the advise helped or not unless you try it. It's clear you didn't care the advice, but that's a different subject.

Death Valley is the largest park in the lower 48 by quite a large margin. It's over a million acres larger than the next largest park (Yellowstone). There is so much that is fascinating about this place's history and geography and so much to discover, yet everyone seems to go to the same three places to take photos.

I understand this is advice is not welcome, so I'll retire from this thread. Should you change your mind, however, I recommend "Death Valley National Park: A History" by the late Hal Rothman, who was a professor of history at the U Nevada, Las Vegas (and sadly died at 48 of Lou Gehrig’s disease a few years ago). The updated version was just released this fall. It's a quick read. 
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2013, 02:20:51 PM »
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I guess we won't know whether the advise helped or not unless you try it. It's clear you didn't care the advice, but that's a different subject.

Death Valley is the largest park in the lower 48 by quite a large margin. It's over a million acres larger than the next largest park (Yellowstone). There is so much that is fascinating about this place's history and geography and so much to discover, yet everyone seems to go to the same three places to take photos.

I understand this is advice is not welcome, so I'll retire from this thread. Should you change your mind, however, I recommend "Death Valley National Park: A History" by the late Hal Rothman, who was a professor of history at the U Nevada, Las Vegas (and sadly died at 48 of Lou Gehrig’s disease a few years ago). The updated version was just released this fall. It's a quick read.  

Mark,

If you study the links I provided above, it is clear that most of Death Valley is unexplored (photographically). Because of the distances and the logistical difficulties involved, these out-of-the-way locales will remain pursuits for the relatively few.  Take a visit to the Striped Butte, for instance.  You are talking about budgeting an entire day, and if you want to experience sunrise and sunset there, 2 days.  I suspect most photographers will instead try and maximize their limited time and opportunities available to the more popular/accessible sites.  This is all so obvious that I am surprised it needs elaboration.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 02:24:36 PM by Rajan Parrikar » Logged

pluton
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2013, 02:23:52 PM »
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I recommend Eureka Dunes and Ibex Dunes;  Both very picturesque locations. Eureka is reachable in a normal car, but Ibex--due only to sand in the roadway--requires AWD or 4WD.
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kikashi
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 03:08:02 AM »
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I'd like to visit the racetrack and, as pluton suggested, Ibex dunes. I'm rather concerned about getting there, though, as I'll be travelling on my own. Can anyone recommend a reliable firm which organises short trips?

Jeremy
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 09:57:35 AM »
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I'd like to visit the racetrack and, as pluton suggested, Ibex dunes. I'm rather concerned about getting there, though, as I'll be travelling on my own. Can anyone recommend a reliable firm which organises short trips?

Jeremy

Jeremy,

I hired Death Valley Jim for a couple of days in December to take me to the backcountry locations.  He has a brand new 4x4 Sports Wrangler.  Over 2 days we went to Striped Butte, Chloride Cliff, Eureka Dunes, Ibex Dunes etc.  He is an outstanding guy, very flexible and one who understands the needs of photographers.  For Striped Butte we had to start out at 3:20 am to catch daybreak in Butte Valley.  I had planned on re-visiting Racetrack but the rangers said that the playa was still wet so I re-vectored my programme.  Jim is not inexpensive, but provides full value for your coin.  If you wish, write to him and ask for a quote (you may give my reference).

http://tour.deathvalleyjim.com

Another option is to rent a 4x4 jeep from Farabee's.  They come in at around $250 a day.

http://www.farabeesjeeprentals.com

I didn't go the Farabee route because I like my mind to be free of distractions when I am out photographing in the backcountry, without worries about getting lost or getting stuck.  And there is no way I could have driven on my own some of the hair-raising sections on the way to Chloride Cliff.
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deathvalleyjim
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« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 10:24:51 AM »
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Jeremy,

I hired Death Valley Jim for a couple of days in December to take me to the backcountry locations.  He has a brand new 4x4 Sports Wrangler.  Over 2 days we went to Striped Butte, Chloride Cliff, Eureka Dunes, Ibex Dunes etc.  He is an outstanding guy, very flexible and one who understands the needs of photographers.  For Striped Butte we had to start out at 3:20 am to catch daybreak in Butte Valley.  I had planned on re-visiting Racetrack but the rangers said that the playa was still wet so I re-vectored my programme.  Jim is not inexpensive, but provides full value for your coin.  If you wish, write to him and ask for a quote (you may give my reference).

http://tour.deathvalleyjim.com




Thank you for the plug, Rajan. It has been a pleasure working with you the last couple of years. I look forward to our next outing.

For those that may be interested in my services, I work hard to get you to the locations that you are interested in shooting. I can provide location advice, and will assist you with every step of planning.  My specialty is backcountry locations, those not accessible by car. 

I'm not only available for Death Valley, but also the Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree, and really anywhere in the Mojave Desert.

My guide service website is http://tour.deathvalleyjim.com

You can also check out my main website: http://www.deathvalleyjim.com

Please feel free to contact me at: jim@deathvalleyjim.com if you have any questions.
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Mjollnir
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« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 12:25:22 PM »
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Thank you for the plug, Rajan. It has been a pleasure working with you the last couple of years. I look forward to our next outing.

For those that may be interested in my services, I work hard to get you to the locations that you are interested in shooting. I can provide location advice, and will assist you with every step of planning.  My specialty is backcountry locations, those not accessible by car. 

I'm not only available for Death Valley, but also the Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree, and really anywhere in the Mojave Desert.

My guide service website is http://tour.deathvalleyjim.com

You can also check out my main website: http://www.deathvalleyjim.com

Please feel free to contact me at: jim@deathvalleyjim.com if you have any questions.

Hey, Jim.

Been reading your web site for years.  Glad to have you around.
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deathvalleyjim
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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 07:58:05 PM »
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Hey, Jim.

Been reading your web site for years.  Glad to have you around.

Nice to be here. I'm glad to hear that someone has found my website helpful!   Grin
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 10:51:38 PM by deathvalleyjim » Logged
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