Select Page

Into the Desert

*Into the Desert – Racetrack Playa // Death Valley, California*

Wow I can’t believe it was nearly two years ago that we sped across Southern California, chasing an idea to see Death Valley for the first time. Seeing the cracked earth pulling apart from itself, the soft feel of the packed ground were stark contrasts. The thing I remember most was the empty stillness. It’s like no where else.

Tomorrow we’re venturing in to a new desert, The Alvord Desert, in South East Oregon. I expect some similarities, some differences, but mostly I expect it to be completely unexpected. No cell service, sunny skies, a couple good books and a little curiosity should be just right.

death valley racetrack playa grandstand william woodward

At Night They Race

Where to 2014

I’m trying to plan out a few serious photo trips for 2014, and it’s harder than ever… I’m really considering Glacier National Park, and perhaps a trip down to California again.  Thoughts?

*At Night They Race – Racetrack Playa // Death Valley, California*

The sailing stones were easily my favorite part of death valley. Well really, the whole playa in general. Second runner up would have been the dunes, but these interesting formations were just too much fun to explore and philosophize their creation.

There was almost a glow from the moon on the sands of the playa, and we stayed out finding new stones and new paths well after midnight. This is definitely on the 2014 potential trips list. Unfortunately, it’s a long list :)

racetrack playa death valley william woodward

The Flats of Badwater Basin

Updated Tutorials

If you’re looking to take more awesome pictures yourself, be sure to keep checking out the tutorials page!  I’ve been updating it pretty heavily lately, including the HDR tutorial in Photomatix.

The Flats of Badwater Basin

There is something peacefully interesting about being at Badwater Basin in Death Valley.  Maybe it has to do with being 282 ft below sea level that makes this ultra flat (and warm) landscape just a little extra fun to explore.  As the sun began it’s decent in the sky, the rays began to cut thru the clouds and across the mountains, offering a great compliment to the stark white salt flats that are laid out before you.  The further you explore the basin, the larger you will quickly realize it is.

Flats of Badwater William Woodward

Hold on to Your Seats

A Little Motivation

Hold on to Your Seats

It’s really amazing how fast we’re moving at any given point in time.  At the equator, it’s something over 1000 miles per hour!  It doesn’t take much to imagine that at those speeds, how much the stars move over the course of the night.   When you point your camera to the south (in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll get these really interesting long sweeping lines.  It’s fun to play with pointing your camera different directions to see what the stars are doing!  If you’re looking to do your own star trails, check out the full ‘how to’ in the Tutorials section.

Northern Hemisphere William Woodward

Off Into the Night

Off Into the Night

It was the kind of night that you don’t even think about coming in from shooting even though the sun has long since set. There was a warmth that was radiating from the desert floor, and the playa glowed beneath a nearly full moon, rising low in the southern sky. The first time you see one of these moving rocks, it’s almost too much to comprehend. What forces could exactly be making these rocks move, and not only move, but leave trails in this solid ground? When one theory begins to make sense, all the sudden the trail takes a hard left, and then loops around, leaving the theory all but lost in the wind.

The kind of dark that you get out at a place like Death Valley is the kind that lets you see the Milky Way even through the moon’s light. It’s quite amazing, and worth the 27 mile off road drive thru the desert to get there. If you’re feeling adventurous, stay the night out in the desert. :)

Death Valley William Woodward