Tag Archives: landscape

From The Panamints to the Sierra

From The Panamints to the Sierra
The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

From The Panamints to the Sierra. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

There is a misconception out there that “you can see the highest point in the 48 states from the lowest point in the 48 states” if you visit Death Valley. This is sometimes shortened: “You can see Mount Whitney from Death Valley.” Sorry to say, but that isn’t quite true. However the truth is pretty impressive nonetheless — from elevated locations in Death Valley National Park you can see both the lowest and highest spots.

I made this photograph early in the morning from one such location. Death Valley itself lay behind my camera position, many thousands of feet below this high ridge. And there in the distance are the peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada, along the eastern edge of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Between these points is a remarkable stretch of very rugged and dry landscape with only a few easy access points to most of it.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Cirque In Shadow

Cirque In Shadow
A high country cirque in shadows, surrounded by a landscape of talus, cliffs and late-season patches of snow.

Cirque In Shadow. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A high country cirque in shadows, surrounded by a landscape of talus, cliffs and late-season patches of snow.

Over the past decade-plus I have traveled into the Sierra backcountry almost annually with a group of fellow photographers each summer. We’ve photographed from Yosemite to Sequoia-Kings Canyon and some non-park areas along the eastern edge of the range. Our practice has been to take a day or two to get to a suitable spot where we set up a basecamp and then photograph the heck out of the surrounding area. One plus of this approach, as contrasted with trying to cover more ground by moving daily, is that we get to become more intimately familiar with the rhythms of the place.

I made this photograph a few years ago on one of these trips. We camped in thin forest at a nice high-country lake mostly surrounded by rocky terrain. Over the course of the week we explored the surroundings, gradually uncovering what the area had to offer. This lake is one of several along the course of a small stream coming down from much higher country, and it lies in an east-facing cirque more or less at timberline. The late-season snow field in the talus field attracted me from the first time I saw it, and it was only after several visits that I decided to try photographing it in the deep shade from the surrounding peaks and ridges.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks

Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks
By the shore of an Eastern Sierra backcountry lake with a ledge of submerged rocks.

Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

By the shore of an Eastern Sierra backcountry lake with a ledge of submerged rocks.

Recently I have had more than one excuse to go back and revisit photographs from previous years. First, this has been an attractive way to find “new old” work during this time of restrictions on travel. Second, I’m involved in a project (about which I can’t say more at the moment) that required me to spend a lot of time during the past month reviewing photographs from a particular subset of my Sierra Nevada photographs. It has been wonderful to relive a set of wonderful backcountry trips I took since about 2008 and, in the process, “discover” a lot of images that I had somehow left behind.

This is one of those photographs. I’ve often wondered about how it is that certain photographs seem to need to “age” for months or years before they make sense. In this case, I think what happened is that when I considered photographs from this place made on this day that I selected another image, worked my way through it, and then moved on. In essence, this one was “left on the cutting room floor” during that editing process. The scene is a high country lake — which lake hardly matters — where rocks under shallow, shoreline water contrast with the intense aqua color of the deeper water.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Desert Slot Canyon

Desert Slot Canyon
Desert canyon narrows curve past sculpted rock walls, Death Valley National Park.

Desert Slot Canyon. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Desert canyon narrows curve past sculpted rock walls, Death Valley National Park.

No, I’m not quite done yet with the photographs from this year’s foray to Death Valley. Visiting the park is an annual tradition for me — sometimes more than once. I often go around the end of winter or beginning of spring, and I would have missed last year’s visit but for the lucky timing that took me there in January of 2020. Since then I had wondered whether the pandemic was going to force a break in the annual ritual, but after being vaccinated it seemed plenty safe to go there and stay (mostly) in uncrowded, out-of-the way places. I was wonderful to be back there!

This is another photograph made in one of the narrows of a canyon that is a bit off the beaten track. (Despite the prominence of some well-known icons in this park, the place is full of other wonders that are far enough from pavement to decrease the number of visitors.) I camped in complete solitude near the entrance to this canyon, and that gave me the chance to explore in in both late afternoon and early morning light. The the narrower sections of the canyon there can be wonderful contrasts between the warmer colors where the canyon walls get a bit of sun and the darker sections that remain in the cool-colored shadows.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.