Manly Beacon, Death Valley NP, California, USA by Tina Blum

Picture Story

I've been visiting Death Valley National Park every other year or so for the last decade. I always visit with a guided photography workshop, as I find being a single female out in the wilderness a bit too daunting. I've also discovered many out of the way sights because of the excellent scouting and preplanning done by my workshop leaders.

This image was made during a workshop in March of 2019, my third visit to this amazing national park. The weather in Death Valley at that time of year is perfect for landscape photographers, with cool, crisp mornings slowly warming up to comfortable heat in the afternoon. Of course, at high noon, we’re all back at camp downloading images and getting the shower we missed earlier!

Our morning started before sunrise, as we wanted to beat the crowds to sunrise at Zabriskie Point. We left the parking lot, climbing up the ridge to the right, trying to find an alternate point of view for this iconic shot. The climb would have been precarious during full daylight, so making the ascent in the dark was undertaken slowly and carefully, with all of us balancing fully loaded camera bags and tripods on our backs. We made it to our shooting spot well before the sun came up, giving us plenty of time to get tripods setup and our eyes acclimated to the slowly changing light. This time of day is my favorite, especially when my camera is in front of me, the light hasn't yet begun to rise, and the expectation of what's to come fills me with excitement.

I was so focused on the ever changing light on Zabriskie, I almost missed this spectacular light show happening on the ridges across the valley from us. Although I'm happy with the images I made of Zabriskie that morning, THIS is the image that hangs on my wall at home!

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