Tag Archives: range

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.

Sunrise Haze, Panamint Mountains

Sunrise Haze, Panamint Mountains
Sunrise Haze, Panamint Mountains

Sunrise Haze, Panamint Mountains. Death Valley National Park, California. April 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Haze from airborne dust above the crest of the Panamint Mountains at dawn

I suppose that I was the “victim” of a sort of natural April Fool’s joke on this April 1 morning. I woke up very early, thinking I might photograph from high along the spine of the Panamint Mountains east of Death Valley. I was on the road in the dark, and as I got closer to my goal and the light began to increase enough to see a bit I noticed that it was hazy — the sort of haze that I associate with dust storms in this part of the world. But there was no dust storm, at least not where I was — just a lot of stuff in the air. Since there were no clouds, I figured that I would get above it by the time I reached my goal at over 6000′ of elevation. I topped the final climb onto the ridge where I could look into Death Valley… and was greeted with haze so thick that it almost looked more like fog (almost an impossibility here), and the floor of the Valley was completely invisible.

Such conditions could be disappointing for someone looking for a “sunrise shot,” but I actually love unusual conditions, especially when they involve mist and haze and fog and clouds. I covered the short distance remaining to reach the end of the road, parked and unloaded camera gear, and looked around to try to figure out how to photograph in these unexpected circumstances. A few minutes later the sun rose thought the haze, and I made a few photographs. I decided that I would likely have to remain here a while and observe the landscape gradually become visible as light penetrated down to lower elevations and as the dust-filled atmosphere thinned a bit. I turned my attention away from the deep valley and towards the ridge leading away to the north, where the thin light illuminated a landscape of shadow and light gradually fading into the distance.


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, Evening

Dunes and Mountains, Evening
Dunes and Mountains, Evening

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

Dunes and rugged desert mountains in evening light, Death Valley National Park

I made this photograph near the end of a very long day in Death Valley National Park. Most of the day was not spent photographing, though I did make some photographs. In keeping with a personal resolution to visit areas of the park that I had not previously seen I had gotten up early and gone to a remove valley that is apparently not visited all that much. My initial idea of visiting the specific place came, as it often does, on what was essentially an accident and a whim. While reading about the park I came across the name of the place, realized that I hadn’t heard that name before, looked it up and figured out where it was, and decided to go there. Since I’m not sharing photographs of the location in this post, the specific details aren’t important, though I’ll share that it was a long drive on rather rough roads — and I finally ended up at a place where the road simply ended in a very quiet little valley high in the desert mountains.

After spending a bit of time alone in that spot it was time to retrace my route back to where I was camped, and by the time I finished the return drive it was almost time to think about photography in evening light. After hours of driving earlier in the day I decided to shoot nearby, and I ended up at these familiar dunes, though perhaps not in the area that most folks go. In fact, during the hour or more that I spent wandering around here with my camera I did not encounter a single other person — though I could see people off in the distance at times. Here I found a spot with an almost clear view across the complex shapes of the dunes, looking toward the rugged mountain landscape along the east side of the valley, and I photographed through the last sunlight and into the early evening.


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.