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).

ARLES, FRANCE – The Spiritual Home of VAN GOGH


Arles, FranceArles is one of the most popular destinations in Provence, famous for its significant Roman heritage. It is the spiritual home of Van Gogh, and you will see how this artist was so inspired by the beautiful countryside in this region of France.

Most of the roman and medieval monuments are within walking distance in the old town and can be covered easily on foot in a day. 

Rich Smukler currently resides in Boca Raton, 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)

Musee d’Orsay, Paris


The clock at Musee d"Orsay Musée d’Orsay  is a museum in Paris, France, on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. To my way of thinking, though certainly discovered by the public, it provides far more breathing room than its better-known counterpart, The Louvre.

This shot was taken from inside the museum. The iconic clock, oft photographed, looks over the Seine. If you allow your eye to follow further, you will eventually reach Montmartre, known for its many artists. 

Rich Smukler currently resides in Boca Raton, 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)

Outburst


Outburst

Welcome to Spring!

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

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

Against the Traffic: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley


It rises as the tallest dunes in California and perhaps North America.

The Eureka Dunes lie in the remote Eureka Valley, an enclosed basin at 3000 foot elevation located northwest of Death Valley. They rise nearly 700 feet and stretch 3 miles long and 1 mile wide. They are magnificent in their solitude and pristine beauty. There is nothing in this valley! There are no distant lights or towns, no gas stations or convenience stores. Civilization is pretty much left behind. You are on your own! Amazing!!!! The silence is palpable. Surrounding the dunes are the limestone walls of  The Last Chance Mountains rising another 4000 feet. Quite something to behold.

 You will be traveling on a gravel road in Eureka Valley (which connects to a road running from Big Pine to the Grapevine section of Death Valley). This is where it helps to have your high clearance vehicle. No off-roading is permitted anywhere in the park, but the going can be tough. It is probably a good idea to travel with someone who can offer a helping hand if need be.

 The parking area at the foot of the dunes is adjacent to a meager campsite with Spartan facilities. So, bring with you everything that you need for the day. And as a follow-up suggestion, when you get hiking into the dunes, bring everything that you need by way of your camera equipment, as the walking is tough and returning to your vehicle may not be the best physical or time-management choice under the circumstances.

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 A couple of tips: Bring and drink plenty of water; apply sun-block and wear protective gear; wear good sturdy boots or shoes; please consider the eye cup that I recommended in my previous post PREPARING FOR DEATH VALLEY (the glare makes it extremely hard to see what you are doing, otherwise); and if you are considering the use of more than one lens, I strongly recommend you attach that extra lens to a second camera body as this is the last place you want to switch lenses out. You might remember that in my post  THE ROAD FROM SAN QUIRICO TO PIENZA  I discussed the hazards of this exercise due to the drifting air particles and such in Tuscany. At least under those circumstances, you could make your way back to your vehicle. You probably won’t have the same luxury once on the dunes.

Be patient and wait for the light. Tonight we head to Stovepipe Wells where we will bunk for the rest of the week.

 Happy Shooting!

http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com