Artists' Palette Loop

This drive, near Furnace Creek in Death Valley, is billed as, "Scenic loop drive through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills."  It is that and more!  The drive is a nine mile one-way loop with just enough pull-outs to make the trip last several hours, if you are a photographer.  I would recommend this drive over Badwater Basin, which is further down the road.

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The view is better from the top!  We pulled over in a 'scenic point' lot and I climbed way up a slope.  Looking westward, across the valley, one can spot how erosion slowly moves to the floor.  It reminded me if Iceland where glaciers erode rock and leave patterns such as this one.

The view is better from the top!  We pulled over in a 'scenic point' lot and I climbed way up a slope.  Looking westward, across the valley, one can spot how erosion slowly moves to the floor.  It reminded me if Iceland where glaciers erode rock and leave patterns such as this one.

Looking south from the top of the hill one can see the salt deposits that form Badwater Basin.

Looking south from the top of the hill one can see the salt deposits that form Badwater Basin.

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There are a few 'ordinary' images to be had along this loop, but they are few.  Here is one.

There are a few 'ordinary' images to be had along this loop, but they are few.  Here is one.

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I was not driving and clicking.  The road is one way and traffic was light.  Tom was my spotter and I took the opportunity to indulge in a middle of the road photograph!  With a view like that . . . Whew!  Took my breath away!

I was not driving and clicking.  The road is one way and traffic was light.  Tom was my spotter and I took the opportunity to indulge in a middle of the road photograph!  With a view like that . . . Whew!  Took my breath away!

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End of the loop ahead.  What a drive!

End of the loop ahead.  What a drive!

Tom and I use the expression, "You just can't make this stuff up!"  Usually it is in reference to some article we read that has caused us to ponder at the folly of our fellow human beings.  But, I have begun to think of this expression when confronted with a photo-adventure that defies an easy explanation, that is awesome in every way, that cannot be created in any software program that I know of, and that I could not have imagined before seeing it.  Zabriskie Point and Artists' Palette are such places.

Zabriskie Point Revisited

My blog post of our first visit to Zabriskie Point mentioned 'flat light'.  I was disappointed in not getting the bright golden light needed to get the best demonstration of the fascinating rocks that make this site such an iconic point of interest in Death Valley.  Tom and I decided to give it another try.  We used The Photographers' Ephemeris to pick a morning where the light was forecast to be more interesting.  In addition to a different light, I wanted to try out my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens that had just been returned to me by Tamron.  The lens would not focus properly right out of the box!  So you will see some really nice close up photographs not usually posted for Zabriskie.  Our choice meant we had a long three hour drive to get there before sunrise and catch whatever Mother Nature would give us.  We hope you enjoy the effort!

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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are the best known and easiest to visit sand dunes in Death Valley. We were excited to find that they were going to be a mere 5 miles or so from our parking spot at Stovepipe Wells. These are not tall dunes, the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, but the dunes actually cover a vast area. This dune field includes three types of dunes: crescent, linear, and star shaped. I think you can identify the first two easily from our photographs.  The third may require more elevation than we gave you!  Polygon-cracked clay of an ancient lakebed forms the floor. Mesquite trees have created large hummocks that provide stable habitats for wildlife.

We photographed the dunes three separate times.  The photographs from our evening and morning adventures show just how much a Golden Hour color impacts the sand's color.  It can change right before your eyes as the sun move up or down.  The last couple of images were capture about mid-day and show how white the sand is without that sun's golden glow.

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