Friday, March 25, 2011

Photographing Devil's Golf Course in Death Valley National Park

Evening clouds over Devil's Golf Course.

The Devil's Golf Course in Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite photography destinations in the park.  The area is just so interesting and different than anything I have previously experienced.  It's as if you've stepped onto another planet.

This magnificent place is accessed from the Badwater Road, 13 miles south from Furnace Creek.  The area closest to the parking lot is not very attractive, having been trampled by many feet.  But wander out a short ways and this will all change.  The rounded salt crystal mounds will turn to sharp, serrated formations that are much more interesting.

Be warned:  the salt crystals are very sharp and abrasive.  Sturdy boots, gloves and knee pads are highly recommended.

I was surprised at how little traffic Devil's Golf Course received during my visits.  It gets no where near the traffic that Badwater receives.  I found most visitors to be car tourists who quickly read the information signs, took in the immediate surrounding of the heavily abused area near the parking lot, then sped off to their next destination.  Very few remained longer than 10 minutes.

I spent a couple of evenings photographing this area, and found myself all alone at sunset both times.  During my second evening another photographer did show up and explore areas close to the parking lot.  After appearing frustrated, he packed up and drove off just before the prime light appeared!

Sunset over Devil's Golf Course.
Devil's Golf Course is a great location for wide angle and normal range lenses.  Getting low with your tripod can be a little challenging, both in the positioning of your tripod legs and being able to get low enough to compose your shot through the view finder.  Don't expect to be comfortable!  But do expect the rewards to be worth it.

A telephoto lens would be useful to play with the patterns, though I did not do this.  Do you get the feel that there is just so much potential here?

Graduated neutral density filters should be considered mandatory.  I would also consider a warming filter if you don't have access to this during post-processing.

I found evening to be the best time to photograph here, though mornings could still be rewarding as well.  Though the southern sky is typically considered the most rewarding for pinks and interesting colors, both images appearing here are actually of the northern sky.  Also, watch the Black Mountains at sunset and the Panimint Range at sunrise as these respective mountain ranges catch the suns special light.

I highly recommend making Devil's Golf Course part of your itinerary during your next Death Valley National Park visit.

No comments:

Post a Comment