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Badwater Reflections

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 11 February 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (space available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 17-20, 2010 (space available)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 3-7, 2010 (space available)
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Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
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Note: I will be gone the remainder of this week teaching a workshop with Gary Hart in Yosemite National Park where I will have limited internet access. Unfortunately I won't be able to respond to all of your comments, but I will read them upon my return.

Death Valley National Park is such an arid, harsh, environment, that the total average rainfall for a year is 2 inches. When the park receives close to that amount in a couple of days, standing water (and closed mountain passes) are the result.

The last time the Valley received anywhere near this amount of rain was in 2004-05, when the Badwater salt flats (the lowest elevation in the United States at -282 feet below sea level) turned into a lake. Last month's rains resulted in something a bit less, but nonetheless provided a unique photographic experience as water filled the uplifted salt polygons and allowed for a reflection of the Panamints Range (and Telescope Peak) in the pools of standing water.

I captured this image, along with a contingent of 13 workshop participants in Gary Hart's Death Valley / Alabama Hills workshop. We arrived well before sunrise at Badwater, and were able to enjoy a moonset behind the Panamints. A short walk onto the salt flats led us to these rain-filled polygons, and it was simply a matter of finding a composition and waiting for the warmth of sunrise light. This image is actually a pano consisting of four horizontal frames combined in Photoshop using CS4's Photomerge tool.

I used a 24-70mmL lens on my full-frame Canon 1DsMKIII fitted with a Singh-Ray slim polarizer to capture the four frames. One might wonder why a split-neutral density filter was not needed, but with the light tone of the foreground polygons, the scene balanced nicely without one.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 3/10 second F/16.0 ISO 200 35 mm

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