I really cannot believe that January–1/12 of 2010–is already behind us. It seems like just yesterday we were all sharing our favorite images of 2009, and we’ve already created so many fantastic images this year.
Here in southern California, the weather is already starting to feel spring-like. Around my house, the hillsides are turning the vibrant green that will be with us until April. There’s talk of a decent wildflower season after our epic rainfall totals during the last couple of weeks. While our spring will have moved into summer by the time the rest of the nation begins theirs, I’m looking forward to all of those spring time photo outings–the ones where you (should) take just a few moments to bask in the warm sunlight, or in a grass-filled meadow. I’m also looking forward to hopefully fitting in our annual trip to Death Valley National Park this year.
If you haven’t been, Death Valley is a pleasantly deceiving national park. The idea of “DEATH Valley” brings to mind a barren landscape that’s, to put it bluntly, boring. Anyone who’s been there will tell you the opposite. Its an amazing park, encompassing many ecosystems, and several natural wonders. What amazes me is how much diversity is present in a relatively small space.
One of my favorite places in Death Valley is the Racetrack Playa, where the famed “racing rocks” are found. The playa itself is a very flat surface; its altitude varies only a few centimeters across its 1-mile length! When the playa is wet (as it probably is now), it makes a very slick surface, and high winds push the “racing rocks” along, leaving tracks that remain after the mud has dried. Many of the rocks are quite large, and I’m happy I haven’t been on the playa during the winds that are capable of pushing rocks that heavy–I would guess there would have to be gusts in excess of 80 or 90 mph!
This month’s photo is a star trail shot I took in April 2009 on the Racetrack. It is a composite of about 25 2.5-minute shots, stacked using Photoshop. I wanted to include the north star–Polaris–in my shot, so I had to look for a rock that had a northerly trajectory–apparently there aren’t many!
G. Dan Mitchell, an excellent San Francisco Bay Area photographer, has recently been writing a couple of very informative and comprehensive guides to visiting Death Valley. You can see them here and here. Mac Danzig, who has an amazing Death Valley portfolio, also has taken the time to write an excellent guide to Death Valley here.
You can see all of my Death Valley photographs here.