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In 1993, on my first visit to Death Valley, following Yosemite and Denali, I realized how much of nature’s variety was showcased in the national park system as a whole. Death Valley is the hottest and driest area in the country, a vast and trying place of desert extremes, ranging from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere to tall snow-capped mountains. Many geological wonders – vast sand dunes, one of the largest salt pans on earth, and rocks moving mysteriously on a dry lake bed – highlight it. Growing up in France, I had never seen deserts before. The sight of the dunes set in the vast valley astonished me, as did the distances there. What at first promised to be a short stroll took an hour of trudging in the sand. After visiting the dunes many times, I strived to challenge the notion that no good landscape photograph can be taken there at midday. Low light is usually preferred for the Mesquite Sand Dunes because it creates shadows by hitting the raised edges of the ripples, making them visible. The same effect can be obtained with a high sun provided that the angle of the sun rays is close to parallel to the angle of the slope. Of all the dunes around, I selected those for their steep slope grazed by the sunrays, and shot backlit, which also helped revealed its texture. The background of mountains provides a texture that echoes that of the dune while remaining secondary because of the dark tones, and I made sure to exclude the sky since it would have been brighter than the dunes, therefore pulling the eye away from them. #deathvalleynationalpark #deathvalley #nationalpark #california Image (from my book Treasured Lands) part of the exhibit "The Blue Marble: Art for the Environment" at Pacific Art League Sept 6-25, 2019, 668 Ramona Street, Palo Alto. @pacificartleague @nasa @sierraclub @environmentalvolunteers
Joshua trees and granite boulders characterize the windy high Mojave Desert, while at the Colorado Desert’s lower elevations, cactus and native California palm trees thrive among sandy washes occasionally flooded by unpredictable torrents. I was not sure if I inadvertently brushed against a cholla cactus, or if the piece jumped at me while I was looking for a good viewpoint in Joshua Tree National Park during the predawn darkness, but the result was that I couldn’t dislodge it with my bare hand for fear of getting my fingers stuck as well. A beautiful sunrise below the clouds kept me in the Cholla Cactus Garden, with a cactus clenching onto my behind, until the light was well over. I then strolled back to the car to tease the spiny thing out with pliers. #joshuatreenationalpark #joshuatree #nationalpark #california Did you guess correctly that I would post this image? Here is how you could have figured it out with a 50% chance. The series of the six previous images were the California national parks by date of designation, and the particular photos were the main images (full-page chapter openers) for their respective sections in the Treasured Lands book (see profile link for info). This is why there were two possible answers, since the next national parks were Death Valley and Joshua Tree, both designated the same day as part of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. Image part of the exhibit "The Blue Marble: Art for the Environment" at Pacific Art League which opens tonight at 668 Ramona Street, Palo Alto. @pacificartleague @nasa @sierraclub @environmentalvolunteers