Into the Sun, Death Valley NP, California, USA by Laura Zirino

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Picture Story

I walked into the Mesquite Dunes on this particular afternoon ready to give up photography. I was just in one of those low points that we all go through, creatively and in life. I was attending a photography workshop only because the deadline to cancel had passed, but fortunately the instructor was astute enough to know I needed to go off on my own for this field session. I hiked into the dunes, not expecting anything. As the winter light got lower, amazing shadows and textures were created on the dunes.

I took one shot after another, feeling the joy of creating coming back. The winter light just kept on giving. As the sun was about to dip behind the mountains, I kept shooting this dune curve, but not getting anything I liked. "I wonder what it would look like if I shot directly into the sun, like you're not supposed to do?" ran through my head. I aimed the camera upward just as the last light was visible, and this it what it looked like. I used my 70-200 mm lens to compress the layers of dunes and capture the sparkles in the sand. This particular lens also is very resistant to flaring, which helped create an isolated flare without a lot of spots. I cloned out about 3 tiny spots to clean up the comp. Winter is a fabulous time to be in Death Valley, as the light is low, the shadows are long, and the temps are really pleasant.

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