Eye of the Beholder

cottonball-basin-pools-sunset

Behind the scenes of this photo


Taken in the Cottonball Basin, Death Valley National Park, on November 14th, 2013

This evening was a great reminder that beauty is all around us. Sometimes to find it all you need is a different perspective. Or maybe you just need to look at things in a different light. After all, when I took this shot I was standing ankle-deep in pond scum, mud, muck, brine, and other bizarre goop and it was the most stunning thing I’d seen in a long time.

The Brainmelter

Cottonball-Basin-Salt-Flats-Water-Mud-Sunset

Behind the scenes of this photo


Taken in the Cottonball Basin in Death Valley on November 14th, 2013

In November 2013, on the night just before our Death Valley photo workshop began, my workshop partner, Jim, and I decided to visit one of our favorite places in the park, [location redacted to help preserve its fragility]. Not only is this area full of psychedelic forms, colors, and geology, but that night we were also treated to a mind-bending sunset, with undulating layers of pink, purple, and orange. The scene, with all its blobs, shapes, and colors, was so unreal that it actually melted my brain a little.

Synaptic

cottonball-basin-mud-salt-formations-sunset

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in the Cottonball Basin, Death Valley National Park, on November 14th, 2013

You guys remember those old commercials: ‘This is your brain…THIS is your brain on drugs…”? Well this is your brain on Death Valley. What a trippy, amazing, photogenic, otherworldly place.

Salt Spring Sprung

https://www.joshuacripps.com/2013/07/salt-spring-death-valley-national-park/

Taken at an unnamed spring near Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park, California on November 15th, 2012

Death Valley is an absolutely huge park and there is much more to see and photograph than just the iconic spots. This little-known spring was found by my friend Jim Patterson while we were scouting for our 2011 Death Valley workshop and it has quickly become one of my favorite destinations in the park. Thanks to the amazing lines and amazing reflections here it’s a fantastic place to shoot, and I was fortunate to capture and explosive sunset this night.

Sun Spots

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Taken in the salt flats of Salt Creek, Death Valley National Park, on February 21st, 2013

It’s amazing what you find with a little wandering. And in Death Valley there is lots of space to wander. A photographer friend of mine hinted that these bizarre salt circles might be lurking out in the salt flats near salt creek, so early one morning I set out for a wander. I meandered past reflective streams, furrowed cracks of earth, and baked salt pans. Then, out of nowhere, I stumbled upon these dots. As luck would have it the rising sun cast a nearly perfect sundog across the haze of clouds to the east and created a beautiful symmetry to the scene.

Mirror Imaging

Death Valley Springs Sunrise

Taken in Death Valley National Park on February 20th, 2013

Water isn’t hard to find in Death Valley if you know where to look. There is a little-known spring near Furnace Creek where water forms myriad rivulets and channels through the salt pan. The water is only a few centimeters deep and flows at a snail’s pace, making it serenely still and marvelously reflective. Quite a lovely thing when you have a sky as wonderfully textured as this one. On this particular morning I felt surrounded by water, for as I photographed these watery mirrors below me a huge rainstorm was soaking the mountains above me, and a few minutes after I took this shot the pitter patter of little raindrops reached the valley floor, disturbing the reflections and forcing me to cover up my camera.

The Road to Heaven is Paved with Gold

 

Cottonball Spring reflections, Death Valley National Park

Taken at an unnamed spring near Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park, California on November 15th, 2012

Death Valley is an absolutely huge park and there is much more to see and photograph than just the iconic spots. This little-known spring was found by my friend Jim Patterson while we were scouting for our 2011 Death Valley workshop and it has quickly become one of my favorite destinations in the park. Thanks to the amazing lines and amazing reflections here it’s a fantastic place to shoot, and was heavenly indeed on this evening back in mid-November.

 

Zen Garden

Ibex Sand Dunes abstract photo, Death Valley National Park

Behind the scenes of this photo


Taken at the Ibex Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park on November 13th, 2012

Sand dunes can be the most peaceful place on the planet, if you can find the right ones. All of them have the magic ability to soak up sound and render the landscape breathlessly quiet. But few of them have the same feeling of pristine isolation as the Ibex Sand Dunes in the southern part of Death Valley. Every time I visit them I experience peace and quiet in a whole new way.

View more beautiful Death Valley photos.

Dune Avalanche

Mesquite Sand Dunes sunset, Death Valley National Park

Taken in the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley on November 10th, 2011

Walking along the sharp ridge line of a dune in the Mesquite Sand dunes in the desert of Death Valley I noticed these fascinating chutes formed by small avalanches of sand. I loved the textures and shapes.

Painting with the Wind

Ibex Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Taken at the Ibex Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park on February 28th, 2011

Truth be told, I’m not much of an abstract shooter. I just love grand vistas and soaring landscapes. But sand dunes are such amazing studies in lines, light, color, and textures that it’s easy to lose yourself in these elements. The way that light and shadow feather so gracefully around the curves of the dunes is pure magic. The smoothness and subtleties can be so perfect they almost look like they were painted in. And it was these tones and textures which caught my eye and camera in this shot.

Desert Dream

Ibex Sand Dunes at sunset, Death Valley National Park

Taken at the Ibex Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park on February 28th, 2011

A few wrong turns and a lack of information left me driving around southern Death Valley a mere hour before sunset, desparately searching for something compelling to photograph. As I rounded a bend on the bone-jarring Henry Wade Road, I glanced to my right and saw a field of sand dunes off in the distance. Leaping out of my jeep, I practically sprinted the three miles to the dunes, arriving out of breath, overjoyed, and amazed by my good luck. The next 30 minutes were some of the best I’ve had as a photographer, as I wandered the dunes, entranced by the colors, shapes, and light.

Land of Light and Shadow

Ibex Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park
Taken in the Ibex Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park on February 28th, 2011

After a crazy day of flying by the seat of my pants while trying to find some sand dunes, I decided to venture down the terribly-washboarded Harry Wade road. After 15 bone-jarring minutes I happened to glance to my right and saw, unbelievably, sand dunes! Getting out of the car and practically running the three miles to the dune field, I arrived at the pristine dunes just as the late afternoon light was creating a visual smorgasbord of lines and shadows.