Sunday, May 2, 2010

Artist's Palette - Death Valley National Park

Artist's Palette is on the face of the Black Mountains along Artist's Drive in Death Valley National Park.

As the name would suggest, it broadcasts an aray of attractive colors in its rock. The colors are brought on by the oxidation of different metals; red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing mica, and the purple is from manganese.

The Artist's Drive area provides evidence of one of Death Valley's most violently explosive periods, though this is not the predominant thought on your mind while viewing these colors of the rainbow.

Geology and history aside, Artist's Palette is a darn right beautiful place! The contrasting palette of colors attract photographers and tourists alike, especially toward evening as the sun begins to set. This is when the colors start to pop as the light grows ever softer.

A great vantage point is on a bluff just south of the main parking lot. It's also accessible from the road shortly before the Artist's Palette turnoff.

This bluff serves as an excellent place to catch sunset over the Panimint Range as well. And if you are lucky enough to catch clouds in the sky, the reward can be excellent!

Arist's Drive is a scenic one-way loop located about halfway between Furnace Creek and Badwater, accessed from Badwater Road. It rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed by a deep canyon, and includes many sharp curves and deep dips - much like a roller coaster.

These images were all captured with my 70-200mm lense, often in tandem with a 2x telenconverter. This setup was particularly useful in isolating the patterns and colors of the rock.

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