Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photo of the day: Badwater

Badwater, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Badwater, California: the lowest place in the western hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. Intermittently flooded by runoff from the surrounding mountains during the desert's rare but violent rainstorms, the evaporating water, with nowhere to drain, leaves behind crystaline deposits: carbonates, borax, and especially salt.

We drove to Badwater one evening for the sunset, forgetting that the best light would actually be an hour before sunset--at such a low elevation, the sun goes down behind the western mountains long before it sets over the distant ocean. Still, the light of dusk cast the salt flats in a moody blue light, while the sky reflected the colors of the setting sun.

You have to walk waaay out into the flats to get away from the paths trampled by the hundreds of people who visit every day. When you do, you're rewarded with foregrounds that still show the crystaline encrustation of eons of salt deposits. From there, the rules of photography are simple: use a tripod; keep the camera low, the angle wide; observe the rule of thirds; and keep the horizon level.

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