Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, California

I recently had the opportunity to return to California’s Death Valley National Park and areas nearby. Just a few weeks earlier, Death Valley had experienced record rains (yes, it rains sometimes in Death Valley) and Badwater Basin still had water in it, though it was receding very rapidly every day. On the morning I chose to photograph there, I and the few other photographers foolish hardy enough to venture out were greeted by gale force winds with hurricane force gusts! Cameras on tripods were at constant risk of tipping over as were the photographers themselves!

My intent for this image was to capture the reflection of sunrise on the distant mountains, but the wind churned the water remaining in the basin, destroying such reflections. However, the texture created is quite interesting, in my opinion.

The ridges visible in the foreground are salt deposits building up as the water evaporates. These deposits will eventually form into the classic hexagon shapes seen in other photographs of the area. It had been a while since the area had seen any significant rain, and the hexagons were crumbling and almost gone, or so I had heard. Now they will reform, providing photographic bounty to those who venture there.

Another interesting detail about this image is that it is a collage of 8 vertical images shot right to left (as I used my body to block the wind from vibrating and tipping the camera). The result is a 150 megapixel image of excellent detail.

Taken with a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 24-85 zoom lens. Each exposure was 1/6 second at f/16, ISO 100. With the wind such as it was, I was not very hopeful of being able to get any useful exposures, but this turned out much better than I feared.

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