Crowley Point, Death Valley


The majestic scenic overlook at Crowley Point is nothing less than breathtaking. It is located at the west entrance to Death Valley National Park and provides a wide variety of panoramic photographic landscape possibilities.

Magnificent Landscapes in National Parks

Crowley Point, Death Valley National Park

Rich Smukler specializes in Landscape and Fine-Art Photography from his studio in South Florida. His works have been featured in numerous museums, galleries and private collections internationally. You can see more of his works at http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com. (Kick back and stay awhile).

If you’ll be in Alexandria, Louisiana, see Rich Smukler’s works at The Alexandria Museum of Art


Alexandria Museum of Art’s 27th Annual September Competition Exhibition

Date: September 5 – November 22, 2014
Location: The Alexandria Museum of Art, 933 Second Street, Alexandria, LA 71301Tea Time

Rich Smukler, from Boca Raton, Florida,  will exhibit his stunning black and white piece. “Tea Time”  which was captured in Rhyolite, Nevada, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas near the eastern edge of Death Valley. The town started in 1905 is response to the discovery of gold in the nearby hills. It is reported that the population rose to near 5,000. Unfortunately, by 1911 the mine closed and the town soon died out. Smukler’s works have been featured in numerous museums, galleries and private collections internationally. This piece was recently exhibited at The von Liebig Art Center in Naples, Florida.

Any questions concerning the exhibition can be directed to Megan Valentine, museum curator and registrar. phone: 318-443-3458 or email at megan@the museum.org

 

Against the Traffic: Rhyolite, Nevada – The Ghost town


It’s been a long hard week in Death Valley and it is time to pack it in. I only introduced you to some of the many wonders that the area has to offer. It is really something that needs to be experienced personally and in your own way. On a great tip, I headed towards Rhyolite, Nevada on my way back to the airport in Las Vegas. I have an affection for architectural decay and this old town does not disappoint.

Located in the Bullfrog Hills in Nye County, Rhyolite is about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas near the eastern edge of Death Valley. The town started in 1905 is response to the discovery of gold in the nearby hills. It is reported that the population rose to near 5,000. Unfortunately, by 1911 the mine closed and the town soon died out.

With a few more shots in my pocket, it is time to head home. Thanks for joining me

Happy Shooting!

http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com

 

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Against the Traffic: Death Valley – Badwater Basin


It’s 4:30am.  I am completely alone in Badwater Basin, the lowest place in the western hemisphere. It seems like the dark side of the moon. Still bleary eyed, I slowly, contemplatively set up my tripod. A steady and warm breeze waltzes across the salt flats. I have never been to nor experienced anything remotely like this place. I quietly await the dawn. I notice someone apparently crawling from a sleeping bag several hundred yards off into the basin. I now notice their tripod already set and ready. I muse, a kindred spirit.

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In the parking area I noticed a painted stripe on the rock cliff indicating the sea level mark, 282 ft above me. Ironically, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, while Badwater is the lowest and the eighth-lowest spot in the world. Along with Salton Sea, south of Palm Springs (-227 feet), it makes the United States the only country to have two locations among the world’s lowest places. This gives you a rough idea how explosive this area was millions of years ago.

Walking out onto the salt flat you hear the crunch under your feet. Repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes. The accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name.

The sun starts to poke up. It goes fast and catches a sparkle from the zillions of salt crystals that surround you. My impression is that my camera’s sensor is able to receive and articulate this action better than the human eye. A friend of mine once referred to the area as “Badlight Basin”. I’m shooting with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and select my 24-105mm lens.

Pay close attention to your exposure. As in shooting snowscapes, your camera can be fooled. There are several points of view as to how to handle this issue. I recommend Jim Zuckerman’s discussion in his book “Techniques of Natural Light Photography” if you are not comfortable with the subject.

If you go to Death Valley, DO NOT MISS THIS!!!

Happy Shooting!

http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com

Against the Traffic: Stovepipe Wells and Mesquite Flat Dunes


For the rest of the week we will be bunking at The Hotel at Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley. This is not The Four Seasons Hotel, make no mistake! In fact, the movie “Mad Max” comes to mind. The rooms are clean, large and extremely basic.  Wifi is spotty at best. Telephones are non-existent in the rooms and there is essentially no cell-phone coverage (calls must be made from the spare number of phone booths on site). There is a restaurant and bar. I will be polite about the food in the restaurant. The burgers and beer at the bar are just fine, especially if you want to shoot a game of 8-ball. Across the road is a general store and gas station where you can stock up on water, snacks, food and fuel. If you are truly looking for top-notch accommodations, consider The Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort around 26 miles down the road. You will pay substantially for this luxury, however.

A brief thought on the issue of no phone or computer service: It can make you a little nervous at first, especially if you are addicted to these electronic toys, as I am. But after you get over the fear that the world will somehow come to an end if you are not tuned in, the world gets more serene and beautiful. You can see better. Your photography will soar, if you allow it to do so.Image

Just down the road is Mesquite Flat Dunes. These dunes are the best-known and easiest to visit in the national park. They are located in central Death Valley and accessed from Highway 190 or from the unpaved Sand Dunes Road. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet (compared to 680 feet at Eureka), the dunes actually cover a vast area and provide quite a different subject matter. Many first time visitors to Death Valley are surprised to find that it not covered with a sea of sand. Less than one percent of the desert is covered with dunes. It just so happens that the first two locations of our tour of Death Valley are duned areas. The benefit of Mesquite Flat over Eureka is its proximity to your room back at Stovepipe Wells. It allows you to make return visits to shoot based on your decisions over lighting, cloud-layer, etc. The remote location of Eureka Dunes pretty much kills off this flexibility, unless you are willing to set up camp. The suggestions I made about dune-shooting at Eureka in my prior post applies similarly to Mesquite.

Happy Shooting

http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com