Finally working up some presentable frames from Death Valley a few weeks ago...
For the first night, we stayed right by the Mesquite Flat Dunes at Stovepipe Wells, and getting some good stuff out on the dunes was my main goal, so I might as well start there. This is the perfect kind of place: a wilderness where you can just wander around anywhere and anytime you want, totally undisturbed and with a limitless source of ever-changing light, shadow and beautiful sweeping shapes to keep you busy for hours.
At first impression, you might think that you can just point anywhere and get a great shot, but I find it really challenging to pick out and isolate just the right portion of the whole scene that might make an interesting composition. A certain shape or shadow will catch my eye from a distance, but by the time I walk towards it to find the right distance and angle, it's all gone.. point of view is everything here. Also, some otherwise nice scenes can get messed up by all the tracks in the sand.. (you kind of hope for a windy night followed by a quiet morning, but can't honestly expect that kind of perfection very often). I used a long telephoto (which I rarely do) for many shots, and it seemed to be a really effective tool for once.
This is one of my favorites so far... shot in the very late afternoon just before sunset; the light seems like it was just swept across the foreground by a painter with a large brush... and I love the warm golden glow of the sand against the flowing, soft blue background shapes. The smaller image is actually the larger; you can click for a screen filling view of this one because I think it gives an interesting sense of scale, especially with the figure of the guy walking on the crest. I want to call this one "Sword in the Sand".. can you see my thinking for the title?