Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite US parks. Located in the Mohave Desert in southern California, it encompasses mountains, playas, salt basins, slot canyons and several dune fields. From Aguereberry Point (6433 ft) in the Panamint Range or Dante’s View (5500 ft) in the parallel Black Mountains, one can see the extent of the valley below. Among the dune fields, the most easily accessible are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. A quick 30 minute walk will put you at the base of the nearest dunes. Unfortunately the nearness of these dunes makes them the most visited, and by afternoon, covered in tracks. So, the best plan is to get up early and hope that night winds will have scoured away the last traces of human visitation.
On the way to the highest dunes, photographers can create compositions with the dried mud flats and shrubs that border the dunes. With both wide angle and telephoto lenses, one can create uniques images. I photographed these shrubs with several lenses from normal to telephoto focal lengths. For this image, I used a short telephoto focal length and four frames to create this panorama. I think the panorama works especially well compared to a single frame because the dune ripples mimic and extend the length of the shrubs’ shadows. I experimented with several aspect ratios for the panorama, ultimately settling on an approximate 2:1 aspect ratio rather than the more common 3:1 ratio. The first time I encountered one of these shrubs I didn’t know that they are creosote bushes. In early April, they are covered in yellow flowers and swarms of bees. Native people used them for a variety of medicinal purposes, and extracts are antimicrobial and antifungal.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor