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.

Karoo Creation

Thunder clouds and god beams in the Great Karoo Desert, South Africa

Behind the scenes of this photo


Taken in the Great Karoo Desert, South Africa on August 21st, 2008

Photography is all about being in the right place at the right time, and I believe that making the two come together is really 95% planning. Usually that remaining 5% only makes the difference between a good photo and a great one. However, there are times when getting an awesome shot is 100% luck, as was the case on this day in the Karoo Desert. Driving on a winding highway, I came around a bend and saw the most amazing clouds I’ve ever seen. Brakes squealed and gravel flew as I ground to a halt on the side of the road and leapt out of my rental car in order to photograph this enfolding atmospheric drama.

 

Mojave Poppies at Sunrise

Mojave Poppies near Cottonwood Springs, Joshua Tree National Park

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in Joshua Tree National Park, California on February 24th, 2008

The winter of 2008 started off as a wet one, which proved fortuitous for the desert wildflowers. On this weekend in February I arrived in Joshua Tree to find carpets of flowers of all colors covering the desert floor. Wanting to be near the action come morning, I hiked about a ways into the park, pitched my tent, and slept surrounded by wildflowers. Early the next morning I woke before the sun and raced up to a slightly higher elevation where the poppies were blooming in full force. Then, once the sun rose above the horizon, illuminating the poppy fields and turning the clouds into bright nuggets of color in the sky, I snapped this photo.

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