Showing posts with label Desert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Desert. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Romancing The Dunes

Death Valley's Most Recognizable Features

Once you're in Death Valley, a trip to the Mesquite Dunes is as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. A five minute walk from the paved parking area will get you out onto some dunes - dunes full of footprints. Visitors just love to climb on sand dunes!

If you want photos of a pristine, wind-swept wilderness, you'll need to hike farther. Quite a bit farther. Keep in mind that hiking on sand is strenuous, and hiking in Death Valley's heat is extremely dangerous.

My trips to the dunes were logged in the winter months, so I didn't have to deal with snakes or life-threatening temperatures. Even so, hiking out to the footprint-free zone was challenging.

In order to keep sand out of my gear, I mounted lenses to my camera bodies while still at the car. I wanted to minimize lens changes in blowing sand. I filled my jacket pockets with reading glasses, a cable release, a lens cleaning cloth, and other accessories and zipped my backpack tightly.

a photo of the mesquite sand dunes in death valley daniel south photography
Mesquite Dunes at Sunset, Death Valley National Park

This is my favorite photo of the dunes. I like the inclusion of the rugged mountains and the way that peaks line up between mountain and dune. The ripples indicate the presence of wind. I was able to use the small piece of dried vegetation to anchor the foreground.

And no footprints! 

A Word Of Caution

Hiking desert dunes can be dangerous, especially in hot weather. Your body will lose moisture with each exhaled breath. The surface temperature in Death Valley can be eighty degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air temperature, which is typically over 120F in the summer. Walking on sand is physically strenuous, so you'll tire faster than normal.

It's foolish to even attempt a hike into the dunes in the summer unless you're heading out at dawn and intend to return in less than an hour. Regardless of when you go, take plenty of water, MUCH more than you think you'll actually drink. You'll need it, all of it, and probably more.

Never take chances with extreme weather. Be smart, plan ahead, and assume that no one will come to your aid if something goes wrong. Even if you manage to call for help, it could be hours before anyone arrives. By then, you could be a baked potato.

Please - have fun, take some nice shots, and respect the elements.

Camera: Canon EOS 7D

Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved