Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shooting Death Valley with a Leica M9

Father Crawley Point
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/750 ISO 200 cropped to 15x30

We visited Death Valley this past February on our way home from Yosemite.  Death Valley always has a surprise in store for you and this visit was no exception.  We were greeted with beautiful clouds as we entered the area stopping off at Father Crowley Point. 

Winter in Death Valley
Leica M9 Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 160
 Teakettle Junction
Leica M9 Summicron 50mm f/11 1/750 ISO 320

Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/6.7 1/350 ISO 160

The Racetrack
Leica M9 Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/750 ISO 250

Sandy & I stayed 2-full days in Death Valley staying at the hotel in Stovepipe Wells Village.  Leaving the near freezing temperatures and snow in Yosemite we were looking forward to warmer weather in Death Valley after all it's in the desert.  The evening we arrived the wind was blowing as there was a major storm coming in from the northwest.  The following morning we woke to cold temps and what looked like great skies; having only two-days here we decided to take the trip to the Racetrack.

 Leica M9 135mm f/9.5 1/750 ISO 250

This is just another great reason I like shooting digital.  While most images will look good in color there's some that look better in black and white and a few like the above that look equally good in either.  The black and white was converted using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Zabriskie Point
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/350 ISO 320

The Racetrack is situated in the northern part of the park 27-miles southwest of Ubehebe Crater and approximately 4-miles from Teakettle Junction. The Racetrack is well know for the moving rocks that has so far stumped all logical explanations of how they move.A word of warning here - Racetrack Road is a washboard dirt/gravel road; while you might not need 4-wheel drive you do need a high clearance vehicle. Think of shaking everything on and inside the vehicle loose. While there's a speed sign (I think it's 30 MPH) you'd be better off going slower. Okay you've been warned.
Mosaic Canyon
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/6.7 1/250 ISO 320
 Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/8 1/250 ISO 320

Leica M9 Summicron 35mm f/6.7 1/250 ISO 320

We've been to the Racetrack before and found it eerie and this time was no different. The surprise on this trip was the amount of snow. We saw signs of snow on the paved road leading to Ubehebe Crater and once we got on Racetrack Road it got worse. Arriving at the Racetrack we were greeted with a near blizzard with freezing temperatures and blowing snow. While you normally see either Ubehebe Peak(5678' (1731m)) and the Cottonwood Mountains they were completely socked in. Not a great day for a visit here.

Devil's Golf Course

 Leica M9 Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/1000 ISO 250
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/1000 ISO 320

We left the Racetrack heading south into the Park and visited Golden Canyon, Artist Palette and Zabriskie Point before calling it a day.  The second day we hiked into Mosaic Canyon before heading to the Devil's Golf Course and later Badwater.

 No idea as the Exif looks screwed up however I think I remember shooting this with the 24mm.
Rice Paddy
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/500 ISO 160

 We found this Joshua Tree on our way out and had to capture it. I've been playing around with Nik software and thought this image was perfect to experiment with. I processed the first image using Viveza 2; the second image is a slight HDR conversion using HDR Efex Pro, the last is the same HDR converted to black & white using Silver Efex Pro.

 Joshua Tree
Leica M9 Elmarit 24mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 200

This was Part One of Death Valley, part two will contain images from Sandy's Canon 1DsIII and my Cambo WRS1000/P45+ technical camera so stay tuned.


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