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 (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


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!

Against the Traffic: Death Valley – Dante’s Peak and Zabriske Point

It’s 4:30 AM and a few hearty photographers are starting to set up their tripods and await the dawn. It is quiet, very quiet. It is windy and cold. I struggle to keep the tripod steady. I’m already dreaming of my first cup of hot coffee. I attach my headlamp to see the way. I’m fearful that my lens or camera has seized up. Without my gloves this would be a fool’s errand. I panic, return to my car and reset. I do not want to miss the sunrise. It comes and goes so fast. Maybe 30 minutes tops, then it is over. This can be said for both Dante’s View and Zabriske Point, though Dante’s Point was much colder. I shoot them on consecutive days, but will discuss them each in today’s Post. They are both magnificent and should not be missed.

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Dante’s Peak, Death Valley is a viewpoint terrace at 1,669 m (5,475 feet) height, on the north side of Coffin Peak, along the crest of the Black Mountains, overlooking Death Valley. Dante’s View is about 25 km (15 miles) south of Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park. This spectacular view is named from Dante Alighieri, who wrote the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), in which there are described the nine circles of Hell, the seven terraces of Purgatory and the nine spheres of Paradise. For those of you who might be Star Wars junkies, it is a filming location in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located in eastern Death Valley Valley and noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from  which dried up 5 million years ago, long before Death Valley came into existence. This location was used to represent the surface of Mars in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

The photographers line up on their selected vantage points and wait. An occasional test shot to see where the light is. Then it sneaks up slowly and BANG!!!! The cameras jump to life, like a bunch of fishermen waiting for a strike. And here it is. Have everything ready to go. No room for mistakes. The slowly awakening sun kisses the landscape, rises, and the majesty soon disappears, hidden for another day.

That’s it! Off to find some coffee and breakfast. I have a couple of afternoon locations in mind, so stick around.

Happy Shooting!

Rich Smukler