Death Valley National Park, California, USA by Logan Armbruster

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Picture Story

For my first visit to Death Valley National Park, I had all the most popular photography spots on my shot list: Badwater Basin salt flat, the mud cracks, Dante's View, Artist's Palette, and especially the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. I was ferociously excited to photograph and experience the sand dunes during my time in Death Valley.

As expected, the dunes nearest the parking lot were completely ravaged by footprints. I started my journey into the dunes in complete darkness to ensure I found the footprint free sand dunes by the time the sun brought the new day. The hour long walk was made even more difficult by the loose sand, but at long last I finally found myself in the pristine sand dunes and promptly started shooting a few wide compositions of the sweeping lines and magnificent curves of the golden dunes. The wide compositions were pleasing and fun to capture, albeit uninspired and slightly overplayed. I began to search for inspiration elsewhere, and I found it inside of my camera bag in the form of a telephoto lens.

As the sun started to rise above the horizon, I was drawn to the shadows that the dunes were beginning to cast. The interaction of the sweeping lines of the dunes and shadows from adjacent dunes was every photographer's minimalist dream. I set out to find my perfect dune to create a minimalist photograph of light and shadow. After a few unsuccessful attempts of shooting a larger dune, it became apparent that this would need to be a tight shot with an intimate composition.

So I began to look downward. What I found was this absolutely stunning miniature dune just rising above the windswept textures of the sand. It seemed as though this was the beginnings of a new dune that would one day rise as high as all the neighboring dunes. But for now, it had barely risen above the surface of the sand. Nonetheless, the dune's majestic curve and short length made for the perfect simplistic and intimate composition I was looking for. I waited until the sun had risen high enough to remove the shadow of a nearby dune in my composition, and took the shot. Set against the sweeping textures of the sand, I thought this composition embodied the theme of "Curves" for this assignment.

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