Just returned to San Diego from 5 days in Death Valley.
This was probably my 5th or 6th trip to Death Valley. I was convinced that I knew it fairly well. That was a mistake.
My purpose in traveling to Death Valley was to satisfy the requirements of a college class. I was charged with the task of producing, for the final in the course, a portfolio of 10 landscape images.
I invited and traveled with two of my favorite people, Leo Le and April Alston McKay, duel treat photographer and experienced model. April both modeled and captured Leo’s images.
I had the enviable task of capturing each alone and the pair in the unforgiving Death Valley environment. I used the phrased “unforgiving” above because of the injuries suffered by both Leo and April. Thank goodness there where only scrapes, bruises, and a few punctures. None appeared to be serious, but by the end of the trip, modeling was difficult.
Leo had never seen Racetrack Playa, so we changed the days set by the teacher’s plan for our own. We left Furnace Creek Ranch in the dark. I was not sure of the roads and ended up in Panamint Springs a far distance from the route I should have taken. My mistake costs us about an extra hour of shooting time and the vehicle was pretty silent for a while.
The road the Racetrack Playa is only 27 miles long, but takes an hour or more depending on the condition of the road. It took us a little more than an hour both going and returning. I parked at the far end of the playa, but my guests got bored and wanted to go to another area of the playa. We move to the big black structure that looks like and island in the middle of the playa.
Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
I’ll admit I have never explored that area and was interested in examining and photographing the structure as a contrast to the light sandy surface of the playa.
When we first arrived there were only two vehicles. Within an hour, there was a crowd. A crowd is not good for landscape photography and is especially bad for Fine Art work with models.
Leo Le at Racetrack Playa
The trip back to Ubehebe Crater was very long. Although I captured several HDR images of the crater, the parking lot was full and it was difficult to take a picture without people in the image.
So ended one of our adventures in Death Valley for that day.