Dunes and Mountains, Evening Shadows. Death Valley National Park. March 31, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Evening light on sand dunes, Death Valley National Park
I can photograph dunes at any time of day, but for me the evening hours are the most interesting. The scene goes through a sequence of transformations that fascinate me, even on evenings when I wonder if the magic will be there. IN Death Valley, during all but the coolest times of the year, the dunes can be hot places with stark light and washed out colors in the late afternoon — yet even this kind of scene has photographic potential. But soon the sun drops toward the horizon, the color of the light warms, and the shadows lengthen, revealing the textures of the dunes that are hidden in brighter light. As the sun sets the show continues but transforms again as the light takes on a blue tint (from open sky) and fills the shadows, now revealing colors that are not seen in the daylight.
This whole transition occurs relatively quickly, perhaps over the course of an hour and a half or less, and I often feel like I have to work somewhat quickly. This photograph comes from a point in time when direct sun was still on the dunes, though it was muted by haze from earlier sand storms on this evening. The light catches the higher parts of the dunes and gives them a warm color, but the lower areas have already fallen into shadow and have taken on the blue tones of light from the open sky.
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.