Why Photographing Death Valley in California in Black and White

Death Valley is a mythical place for landscape photographers. The landscapes are so varied and so rich that many journeys are necessary to understand and grasp all the nuances of this arid land that is not easily given.

For several years, we have traveled the stony tracks of this national park to create artistic photographs. Our efforts seem to be successful. We have seized the soul of this unusual and extraordinary region.

Dunes of Death Valley in California.
Dunes of Death Valley in California.

An Extraordinary Desertic Region

Death Valley can be described as many superlatives. It has an area of 7,800 km2 (3011 square miles). Traveling from north to south or from east to west takes several hours. Its lowest point is in Badwater. It is 85.5 meters (280 feet) below sea level. It is the lowest point in the United States. The highest temperature recorded on Earth was on July 10, 2013. It reached 56.7 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit).

Death Valley has huge dunes, desert areas covered with salt, an oasis with palm trees and the famous lake with sailing stones. Many landscapes can be photographed. But the area is so vast that it takes a lot of time to make interesting photographs.

Distances Are Problematic

The Valley of Death is a mythical place for landscape photographers. The landscapes are so varied and so rich that many journeys are necessary to understand and grasp all the nuances of this arid land that is not easily given.

For several years, we have traveled the stony tracks of this national park to create artistic photographs. Our efforts seem to be successful. We have seized the soul of this unusual and extraordinary region.

Photographing Differently

Death Valley has been photographed by thousands of photographers and hundreds of thousands of photographs exist. The main difficulty is to be different. For our project, we decided to adopt another vision. First, we chose black and white. This style emphasizes matter, geological structures, forms. Then we tried to adopt different frames and compositions especially for stones that move. It is certainly this part that has given us the most trouble. Indeed, a visitor stole many stones to sell them. Although the site has retained its exceptional character, the largest stones weighing several tens of kilograms have disappeared. We had to walk to find new stones and new points of view. We had to adapt ourselves. The dunes are also a real challenge to photograph because they are only interesting with a very strong modeling that allows to create volumes. This technique allows us to show large areas of sand. But the light is capricious. Sometimes our morning alarms have not been successful. The light was diffuse, flat. It did not emphasize the forms of sand. This is our fifth photographic project in the Valley of Death. This is the first time we have managed to create interesting photos. The previous four projects were unlucky with capricious weather or not long enough. It takes at least a week to make artistic photos. But despite the difficulty, the Death Valley is one of the most extraordinary places to photograph on earth. Landscapes give free rein to the imagination. It is a destination that requires a lot of preparation. But once arrived there, good surprises are always present.

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