"Moonset-Zabriski Point, Death Valley"I find fairly often that the most interesting light actually occurs in that strange few minutes just before sunrise or just after sunset. Not so with something like the dunes in my last couple of posts, where the sunlight really is necessary to bring out the shapes and shadows, but for this one I found it disappointing as soon as the sun broke the horizon and got to work on the scene.
This spot is probably one of the most photographed in all the west, (and that's saying a lot)... every day, busloads of tourists stop in the parking lot, hike up a small hill to the lookout and shoot I would guess tens of thousands of snapshots. Almost every serious photographer stops by here too.. for that reason I've avoided it for all the years since I moved to California, but I have to admit that I'm glad I finally gave it a "shot":)
No busses and only one car in the lot when we arrived about a half hour before sunrise... one other photog and his wife beat me and were already set up and working. Of course I knew there was a full moon that night since we had been camping out nearby, but for some reason it didn't occur to me beforehand that the moon could still be part of the composition... until I got up to the hilltop and noticed that it was still sitting on the horizon, just about to disappear. I had to rush down to the "tripod spot" in front of a small wall and set up in a real hurry in order to get at least a few shots in the can before it set behind the Panamint Mountains off to the west, beyond Badwater. If I had a bit more time, I could have set up something with a telephoto and got the moon really big and fat sitting over Manley Beacon (the sharp, tooth-shaped landmark rock), but hey, you can't have everything. Anyway, I think it really made the shot and my day. The pre-dawn twilight turned out to be by far the best for this view, although some other interesting formations that can be photographed from here in the other direction worked quite well after the sunrise, at least for a few minutes.
It looks great in color, too, but I am kind of leaning towards this B&W interpretation. Be sure to click for a full view, the details and textures of the eroded landscape are really fascinating.
In some photographs the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things...It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators... - Ansel Adams