Badwater Basin
Landscapes,  National Parks,  Travel

Photographing Death Valley National Park’s Other Worldly Landscapes – Part 1

Badwater Basin (Above Photo)

Death Valley National Park in California is a paradise for landscape photographers looking for something different.  Death Valley has other worldly landscapes with unusual foregrounds, barren colorful mountains, and blue skies.

In this two part blog, I’ll tell you about my favorite locations to photograph in Death Valley and some tips on photographing this other worldly photo destination.  In the first post of the Death Valley series, I’ll discuss some of  the photo destinations within the park and how to photograph them. These photo destinations include Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, the Devil’s Golf Course, and Badwater Basin.  

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is a terrific sunrise location.  Zabriskie has multicolored and strangely shaped rock formations with the Panamint Range in the background.  Shortly after sunrise the Panamint Range and the rock formations are front lit giving good light on the mountains.

Zabriskie Point is a good place for panoramas.  Make sure you get there early for a position at the front of the ledge. I find it better to take the trail below the platform to avoid getting other photographers in your foreground.  It is also a good place to work on intimate landscapes with your longer lenses.  These photos also work well in black and white giving your photos that other worldly look. Dress in layers as it can get cold and windy at Zabriskie Point in the winter.

Death Valley Zabriskie Point at Sunrise

Zabriskie Point at Sunrise

Artist’s Palette

Artist’s Palette is an area of beautiful mountain and rock formations with colors that resemble an artist’s palette.  It is a good sunset shot.  If the clouds are right at sunset, there can be beautiful color in the sky.  Since the valley runs north and south, make sure your are at your photo destination earlier as the mountains will block the sunset.  Panos, wide angle photos, and intimate landscapes are all possible here.

Devil’s Golf Course

Once you see this place, you’ll understand the humor in the name.  A sand wedge will not help you on this course.  The rough salt formations at the Devil’s Golf Course can be used in the foreground of your compositions.  Panos will also work here (if you can get your tripod level).  Also bring your macro lens for close up photos of the salt formations.  This is good for sunrise.  Eerie blue colored photos can also be taken in the cool pre-dawn light.

Make sure you wear sturdy shoes.  The formations are rough and tough to walk on.

Death Valley Devils Golf Course

Devil’s Golf Course as the Sun is Rising

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is a salt flat with large roughly circular salt formations that make terrific foregrounds for landscapes of the Panamint Mountain Range.  Get down low to capture the foreground in your photo.  This is a good sunrise shot but also could work at sunset.  Macro photos can also be made of the salt formations.

In part 2 of this blog post, I will discuss more photo destinations within the park and talk about equipment and tips to photograph the park.

Related Blog Posts
A View of Death Valley with Panorama Photos from the iPhone 5
Photographing Death Valley National Park’s Other Worldly Landscapes – Part 2
Death Valley’s Alien Landscapes

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