Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Death Valley sand dunes

With broken shocks on the van and nightfall approaching, it made sense to camp out for the night and sneak in a morning shoot before leaving the national park for repairs the next morning. As luck would have it, the Stovepipe Wells campground was right next to Death Valley's famed sand dunes. We hiked out before sunrise..... the best dunes were much farther than it looked..... and had an incredible morning of photography out there. The combination of soft light, sand ripples, undulating dunes and mountain backdrops makes this an absolutely awesome spot for landscape photography. It would be hard to take a bad photo there!

Below are some of the results (hope they look ok, because it's difficult to get the raw conversions right when working on the laptop in the van!). All were shot with EOS 1DSm3 body, Singh-Ray LB colorcombo polarizer and 2 stop hard edge ND grads. Lenses were either 24-70 or 17-40. Cable release and mirror lock for every photo.

Raven tracks across the top of the dune:


  1. Stunnning! Great combinations of textures and colours.

  2. Love the last one especially, Ethan.

  3. Anonymous12:04 AM

    Wow! Great shots, Ethan. And what an adventurous week you have had!

  4. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Your shots are poetic!

    Can you give me a quick tip on RAW conversions (when converting to JPG)?

  5. Anonymous9:39 PM

    Thanks everyone!
    Titka, I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for my raw conversions and simply play with the adjustment sliders to get the file to look as close as possible to what I actually saw. I'm fairly conservative with adjustments in ACR, preferring to finish the processing work in Photoshop where I typically I use Shadow/Highlight, Curves, Contrast and Saturation. I don't sharpen at all except on copies of the image prepared for specific final uses.
    Hope this helps!