Archive for April 17th, 2012

Death Valley California-by Chip Phillips

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Death Valley Dune Storm













I made a recent trip to Death Valley for the first time and wanted to share a few of my favorite images from the trip. The first night, we arrived at the campground, set up camp, and headed for the Mesquite dunes. I scouted out some locations with my wife Mandy, then we went back to camp for dinner. After dinner, I went back out for some shooting. As I was hiking out I noticed the horizon slowly becoming very dusty and cloudy. It was still pretty calm on the dunes. All of a sudden, the wind kicked up on the dunes and I found myself in the middle of a windstorm. I shot off a few frames hand-held, and then walked down into the dunes to take cover and put on one of those Optech Rainsleeves to protect my camera from the sand that was blowing everywhere. I shot a few more images as the sun was setting, but my favorites were the ones I shot hand-held before taking cover. When I got back to camp, there were tents blown down, chairs missing, and there was a very sandy wife waiting for me in a VERY sandy tent. I barley slept through the night with sand blowing EVERYWHERE. You desert rats know this I’m sure, but I learned the hard way not to camp in a three season backpacking tent during a sand storm! I was picking sand out my ears for days.

Here is an image I shot in the same area before the wind started howling:

Walking the Dunes, Death Valley California














Skies were clear my entire visit, so I tried to make the best of it by choosing compositions that didn’t include the sky. The next morning, I looked for a higher vantage point to do some shooting with my 400mm telephoto lens that I packed all the way down for the trip. I found a jeep road and drove up it a ways to a higher vantage point and waited for the sun to come up over the horizon. I shot this next image with my 400mm f5.6 lens and 1.4x tele-converter, giving me 560mm.

Rolling Dunes, Death Valley California













Can you find the person? It’s a bit hard at this size. Shooting this scene felt very familiar to me, as it is very much like shooting the rolling hills of the Palouse.

All in all it was a great trip, and was very inspirational to me. There is so much to shoot in the surrounding area and it was a great idea to fly somewhere different and get out of my comfort zone here in the Northwest. I can’t wait to get back and hit the area again during some different conditions. On a side note, thanks very much for all the support with the set of image editing videos I just released. They have been very well received and I appreciate all of the great feedback. If you have not checked those out yet, you can view an introduction video and purchase them through my website: