Dark Hills, Death Valley. Death Valley National Park, California. April 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Dark hills contrast with surrounding salt flats and alluvial fans
I know that “dark hills” is not a very poetic description for this landscape… but it does seem, at least, to be accurate! These formations have intrigued me for a few years, and I’ve been surprised to be able to photograph them all alone — despite visiting them regularly, I have never encountered another person there. I’m not sure why, except that there are some better known icons nearby, and perhaps they attract all of the others in the area.
In the past I tried to find out more about the source of the formations and my recollection (which I was unable to re-verify this time) is that they are the result of some kind of ancient tufa-like deposits formed on the bottom of the lake that once filled the basin that is now Death Valley. Their darker color contrasts strikingly with the surrounding terrain, and the material of the mounts has a finely layered quality. This example sits on a small playa where pooling water seems to have left salt deposits behind, though similar forms can also be found in slightly higher terrain nearby. In the evening the low light from the west angles across these mounds and makes their textures and curves a bit more visible.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.