Tag Archives: Mountain

Panamint Range, Reflection

Panamint Range, Reflection
The east face of the Panamint Range is reflected in the surface of a desert pool

Panamint Range, Reflection. Death Valley National Park, California. April 31, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The east face of the Panamint Range is reflected in the surface of a desert pool

This is a photograph of one of those surprising features of Death Valley — water in the middle of a place that is astonishingly arid. This location is one of the lowest, hottest, and driest places in the Valley, and beyond this pool is a terrain that is particularly inhospitable, the famous salt flats. It is not pleasant to venture out there on a hot and sunny day, when not only is the heat oppressive but the light is so intense on the white playa surface that it is almost impossible to look.

I went here quite early one morning, in time for the sunrise light across the Valley on the mountains of the Panamint Range. In many ways this was not a hugely promising morning. I would have preferred some interesting clouds, though the thing high clouds are not completely uninteresting. It might have been nice to have white salt flats, but the playa had apparently gone so long without rain and had experience enough wind that the sometimes-white salt was quite gray. This little pool, at the edge of the Valley and the base of the tall and rugged hills, mirrored the early morning sky and a bit of the dawn color on the mountains.


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.

Dunes and Mountains

Dunes and Mountains
Low dunes and the base of Tucki Mountain in evening light

Dunes and Mountains. Death Valley National Park, California. March 31, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Low dunes and the base of Tucki Mountain in evening light

This is a different interpretation of a photograph that I have previously posted. Here I have simply tried a different crop, one that eliminates some areas of from the top and bottom of the earlier photograph in order to focus more on the horizontal sweep of the shallow dunes and the more distant wash sloping up to the base of gigantic Tucki Mountain, here in nearly the last light of the evening.

I think that when we are in this place, one of the most iconic in Death Valley National Park, our attention is more likely to be drawn to the tallest dunes, which are located more or less behind me at this camera position. But there is much else to see here, ranging from the intimate landscape of ripple sand and small plants to the rugged slopes of Tucki Mountain just to the south, and including the many long views across the huge spaces of the valley. Here I had been mostly photographing an expanse of dunes leading off toward the northeast, when I turned around to see this view of the edge of the sand, with low dunes curving toward the sparse plant life at their edge.


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.

Dunes and Mountains, Last Light

Dunes and Mountains, Last Light
Dunes and Mountains, Last Light

Dunes and Mountains, Last Light. Death Valley National Park, California. April 2, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The last rays of evening sun on the lower slopes of the Amargosa Range above Death Valley sand dunes

I walked out into these low dunes, as I often do, an hour or so before sunset. It had been a hazy day, with the remnants of two days of dust storms muting the light and colors a bit, and the haze continued on into the early evening. At this time of day it often first seems like there is plenty of time to photograph — the light is changing, but the changes are still so slow that it takes many minutes to notice them. I looked up and judged the angle of the sun above the mountain tops to the west, and five minutes later when I looked again the change was hardly perceptible. I continued to follow a path through the dunes that was almost entirely the result of seeing things to photograph, photographing them, seeing other things, and moving on.

Shortly before the sun drops behind the ridge, the light begins to change quickly. As the last warm-colored light slants across dunes, their textures are highlighted and subtle colors begin to appear. I’m often struck by how silent the change is — it almost seems that the sound should change, too, but the transition happens quietly and with incredible speed. When I sense it is about to start I pick a spot and a subject and simply try to watch closely enough to time things right. I picked this composition for several reasons. It entirely excluded any living things, leaving only sand and mountains. The patterns caught the light in interesting ways, and created a sea of subtle color and tonal variations as the last direct light gradually worked its way up the face of the more distant mountains.


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.

Dunes and Mountains

Dunes and Mountains
Dunes and Mountains

Dunes and Mountains. Death Valley National Park, California. March 31, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Low dunes and the base of Tucki Mountain in evening light

At the end of my first full day photographing Death Valley this spring I headed out onto the nearby sand dunes to look for whatever might show up in the evening light. I was close to one of the most iconic dunes in the park, but I found an out-of-the-way spot far enough away from that landmark that I had this area of the dunes completely to myself. Interesting things happen to the light and colors on the sand dunes during the short period of time leading up to sunset and for a short time afterwards. The dunes pick up low angle light that makes the textures of the dunes more visible and the light changes colors — first going toward warmer colors before the sunset, and gradually transitioning toward softer and more blue tones shortly after the sun goes down.

At first I wandered straight out into the dunes — well, perhaps not quite straight, as I tend to follow my instincts and an observer might think that my path looked a bit aimless. At one point I found some higher dunes from which I could see a bit farther of toward the northeast and from which I could look down on the complex patterns of the sand. After photographing there I turned back toward the direction from which I had come, and I saw this section of lower dunes dropping toward the edge of the sand, with the background of the lower folds of Tucki Mountain in late light.


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.

Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama
Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 23,2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening glow on red rock landscape, Utah

I acknowledge that this color is pretty wild. This is partly a result of the way the camera sees in diminishing twilight, with colors saturating in surprising ways. The photograph was among the last couple I made on this evening when we continued photographing so late that it was about to become tricky finding our way back down in the near darkness. It is also the result of wild color in the sky — a bit of which you can see on the clouds in the upper portion of the frame — that fell on rock that is already quite red.

We had spent perhaps a couple of hours photographing in this terrain, focusing on the sensuous shapes of the curved sandstone, the odd cottonwood tree with fall color leaves, and bits of the surrounding landscape. It was a productive evening, working a group of six of us exploring, at times together, and times in smaller sub-groups, and sometimes alone. I didn’t really want to stop, since this isn’t the kind of location that I can easily return to — but eventually the light faded and our work was done for the day.


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.

Tree and Morning Frost

Tree and Morning Frost
Tree and Morning Frost

Tree and Morning Frost. Yosemite Valley, California. March 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A frost-covered Yosemite tree in morning light

It was great fun to be in Yosemite Valley this past weekend for the opening of the 30th annual Yosemite Renaissance exhibition. This is the third time that I’ve had photographs in the show. (If you are in the Valley, drop by. It is in the Visitor Center Museum through May 10, after which it moves on to a couple of Central Valley locations.) The show features a wide variety of two and three-dimensional art by artists who focus on the Sierra and the park. The entry of mine that was selected this year was atypical for me — it includes people and it is humorous! I share it again here at some point, but for now I’ll just note that it features backcountry photographers engaged in an unusual activity. The show brings lots of other fun things: a chance to photograph in the Valley, opportunities to hang out with lots of photographer and artist friends.

I made this photograph on our final morning in the park. We headed out around sunrise, thinking we might find some shallow fog in meadows. There was a bit of the fog but it was dissipating quickly and we eventually ended up in this sunny meadow. I was immediately attracted to this large elm tree, covered in frost and backlit in the morning light. I made several photographs of it — and at least one other may appear here before long — and before long the air warmed and the frost melted.


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.

Storm Clouds, Pinnacles

Storm Clouds, Pinnacles
Storm Clouds, Pinnacles

Storm Clouds, Pinnacles. February 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Winter storm clouds swirl around pinnacles above Yosemite Valley

We were in Yosemite Valley during the late-February season so that we could attend the opening reception for the 30th Yosemite Renaissance exhibit reception. For three decades this juried exhibition has been presenting work by a wide range of wonderful artists who focus on Yosemite and the Sierra. I am grateful that one of my photographs was included in the show again this year. It was wonderful to see so many Yosemite artists of all sorts, their beautiful work, and the large group of art lovers who came to view the opening.

Since we were in the Valley for the exhibit, we figured we might as well make some photographs! The weekend brought the promise of some much-needed snow in the Valley and the higher country. In the end the amount of precipitation was woefully small, yet colder temperatures, and small amounts of snow, and the swirling clouds reminded us of what Sierra winters are supposed to look like. As I stood at a famous overlook, in the company of many other people, I aimed my camera away from the main scene before us, angled it up toward the upper rim of the many, and captured this little scene.


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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.