Desert Sunflowers in Death Valley (2010)
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at Sunset
Join me for a photography tour of the hottest, driest place in the United States, in its friendly and approachable season! Death Valley National Park features some of the country’s most exotic landscapes: massive sand dunes, colorful and deeply eroded hills, salt flats, sinuous canyons carved through solid rock. On this trip we can visit all of the iconic Death Valley sites during their best light: Zabriskie Point, Badwater, Mesquite Flat Dunes, Artist’s Palette, Devil’s Golf Course, Dante’s View, perhaps Agueberry Point and Mosaic Canyon if the roads are in good shape.
Beyond the classic views, we can visit many lesser-known sites as well. Death Valley is America’s largest park in the Lower 48 states, nearly 3.4 million acres, so our opportunities are endless. I live about 3 hours from the park, so I’ve been visiting it multiple times per year for many years, always expanding my photographic coverage and geographic knowledge of the park. You’ll be in good hands to see more than you could on your own, or guided by someone with limited or infrequent experience in the park.
Out timing will be excellent to include the added element of wildflowers in many of the unique and dramatic landscapes of Death Valley. The park only received 1.9 inches of rain in a year, so the wildflower bloom in the park tends to be sporadic and spread out among areas which received just the right amount of rain from showers. Fortunately I’ve already been to the park this year to scout out where they’re growing best.
Spring is also the time when nights get a little warmer, perfect for playing around with a little night photography, including light painting and star trails. if you’d like to try converting a sequence of images into a time-lapse movie, I can show you how to do that as well.
So how much ground could we cover in 3 days, 4 nights? Here’s a link to an album showing some of the places I visited on an extended weekend trip last November:
Zabriskie Point Sunrise, November 2011
We practice “leave no trace” guiding, which includes not encouraging hordes of people to show up in large quantities at the less trampled places we may be visiting, so other than those well-known locations the park’s 1 million visitors commonly visit (Zabriskie, Badwater, and the other sites mentioned above), we request that participants not name the locations we shoot in when you share photos from the trip online. There are enough heavily-trampled places in California already and the problem of crowds of photographers only gets worse over time. No need to worsen that situation; let’s respect our investment of time and effort to find unique locations by keeping them anonymous. My kids call our favorite locations “Valdemort” (“the one who must not be named” from the Harry Potter series). In Death Valley we have Valdemort dunes, Valdemort mine, Valdemort slot canyon and many other sites we’re committed to protect.
Water on the salt flats in February, 2011.
If this March trip sounds like fun, there’s a reservation and payment link in the right column of this blog, or contact me for details on either of my upcoming Death Valley trips. I’d love to show you around one of my favorite local parks!
About your instructors: I have a deep knowledge of digital imaging, and became involved in the industry in 1984 as an applications engineer at the Graphic Printing and Imaging Division of Tektronix (the world’s leading color printing company at the time). I have owned at least nine digital cameras since 2001. I currently shoot with two Canon full frame DSLRs, and I owned four APS-C models before that. My co-leader for this trip will be Lori Hibbett, who shoots with both full frame and DX format Nikons, so we have all the major bases covered. Depth of field varies from full frame to crop sensors, so it’s important that your instructors have years of experience with both to adequately meet the needs of a diverse group. We’ve taught people with other brands such as Sony and Pentax DSLRs as well.
The typical price for my workshops of this length is $695, but I announced this on short notice so I’m discounting it to $595. Limit 8 participants, book early to secure your place. Registration fee is 90% refundable greater than 30 days from meeting date; no refunds within 30 days.
This trip will be convenient for participants arriving through Las Vegas. We can try to help you connect with other participants to share a rental car. (Lodging, transportation, food, and park entrance are not included.)
This will be a lodging-based trip (in contrast to a more remote and adventurous itinerary we may pursue on other visits during the year). AWD or 4WD vehicles aren’t required, but 2/3 of the park’s roads are unpaved, so we may be able to reach a few of the park’s more interesting sites if we have a few vehicles with clearance to carpool in. Upon booking I’ll forward you suggestions for camera accessories and free software applications you may wish to consider, as well as notes on appropriate clothing and outdoor gear.
Last but not least, some competing workshops tout their Wilderness First Responder class training in first aid as if that’s some sort of unique benefit. Not only have I passed that class five times, I practiced treating scores of injured people for five years volunteering for the American Red Cross. Lori brought literally thousands of people on wilderness survival trips she offered for 10 years through U.C.L.A., and with that volume of people, she has had to coordinate emergency medical evacuations from backcountry locations (rarely). No one has been injured on our photography trips, and with each of us having started backcountry guidingover 30+ years ago, we’re extremely qualified to keep it that way. Our wilderness experience will also provide you with excellent interpretive information.
Lori has an in-depth knowledge of native plants and their uses; I love all animals and nearly every year I have the privilege of rescuing rattlesnakes off of roads so they won’t get hurt. We’ve faced everything from black bears and coyotes to cougars and grizzly bears and we love them all… you’ll be in good hands! (There are no grizzly bears in California fortunately, but ask me about the one who thought I was trying to challenge him for a berry bush in Montana!).
Note: PayPal buttons don’t work at the moment from inside my blog posts, so until I get that working, the registration buttons are in the right column of my blog’s front page: http://www.JeffSullivanPhotography.com/blog