Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zabriskie Point

Panoramic Badlands

Death Valley is a vast and diverse wilderness.  Each section of the park has its own 'look' and unique characteristics.

One of the park's most iconic views is also one of the most accessible.  Zabriskie Point is a short walk from a large paved parking area located about a ten minutes from the popular Furnace Creek resorts.

Face west from Zabriskie Point, you'll look out over Manley's Beacon and a variety of rolling, textured badlands. Beyond the badlands lie the valley floor and the jagged Panamint Mountain Range.

a photo of a Red Glow on the Panamint Mountains from Zabriskie Point at Daybreak
Red Glow on the Panamint Mountains from Zabriskie Point at Daybreak

Zabriskie is very popular, particularly at sunrise.  If you arrive early in the morning, you'll see cameras of all shapes and sizes lined up on the ridge above the badlands.

Don't be shy!  Line up right beside the others.  Take your own shots of these iconic views and then scout around for different perspectives.

a photo of Daybreak Striking Manley's Beacon and the Badlands
Daybreak Strikes Manley's Beacon and the Badlands

Light and weather are never exactly the same from one day to the next.  These changing conditions will help give a unique look to your shots.

a fine art photograph of eroded badlands from zabriskie point
Eroded Formations - Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is much more than a single-shot destination.  The badlands wrap around the developed viewing area for at least 270 degrees, and you can hike down into the badlands on established trails if you want to try a different viewpoint. 

a photo of geometric patterns in the badlands at zabriskie point
Geometric Badlands - Zabriskie Point

There's also the possibility of encountering unique conditions and circumstances.  On this day a couple of vans full of children pulled into the parking area.  Some of the boys ran down into the badlands despite the protests of their chaperones.  I had put my camera away and was heading back to the car, but I managed to grab this quick, handheld shot as the children ran back up to the viewing area.

a photo of children running through the badlands at zabriskie point
Boys In The Badlands

An elderly lady walked over to me and asked, "Did those boys ruin your picture?"

I smiled and said, "No, Ma'am.  It's fine."

As she walked away, I thought to myself: "I think they just made my day."

Weather can change the look and mood of any destination.  I took the shot below on a cloudy morning when the badlands themselves looked dull due to a lack of direct sunlight.  It's an interesting contrast to the typical shots taken at this site.

a fine art photograph of zabriskie point at sunrise on a cloudy morning
Cloudy Morning at Zabriskie Point

Finally, it pays to look for unexpected possibilities.  Zabriskie Point is widely known as a sunrise destination, but under the right circumstances, it's possible to capture amazing sunsets here as well.  Here's one of my favorites.

a photo of Zabriskie at Point Sunset in Death Valley National Park
Zabriskie Point Sunset - Death Valley National Park

            Canon EOS 5D Mark II

            Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II
            Canon TS-E24 f/3.5L II
            Canon 24-105 f/4L IS
            Canon 70-200 f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2012 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved