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Zabriskie Point Badlands | by PaulRojas
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Zabriskie Point Badlands

I was looking at weather reports last Sunday, when I thought of looking up Death Valley. The forecast said partly cloudy on Monday and Tuesday. It looked like a good opportunity, and my ex-wife (who's still one of my best friends) had the week off and was visiting, so on a whim I called my project manager and asked if I could take the entire week off. He said yes, so we packed our camping gear and found ourselves in Death Valley the next morning.

It was my first time there, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect (for sure I wasn't expecting the place to be so vast!), but the last thing I expected was to find NO CLOUDS. That was somewhat disappointing, but I figured I'd make do with what I could find.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I finally got some "partly cloudy" skies at Zabriskie Point. They were just tiny wisps, and they were far from the badlands, where I wanted to compose a shot. And the light was bright and contrasty. Having done more time on the coast, I didn't know how the light would change once the sun dipped behind the mountains. But, I was already there, so I crossed my fingers and hoped that maybe the wind would blow the clouds in the right direction and the light would change for the better.

After the sun disappeared, the light over the badlands just turned bad and after a few minutes, worse. I was pissed, but not wanting my trip there to have gone to waste, I started hiking down the trail beyond Zabriskie Point in hopes of finding a composition that could salvage whatever light was left. I couldn't find anything I liked. I hiked back up and then back down again and still couldn't find anything. Ex could tell I was getting frustrated and tried to be supportive by suggesting some compositions here and there, but I knew none of it would work. The light just sucked!

After almost an hour I was ready to throw in the towel, when wispy clouds started moving in over the mountains beyond the badlands... and they were getting a tinge of pink!

"F*ck, yeah!!! There it is!!!" It wasn't the greatest, but it was as good as it was gonna get, and for me, that was good enough.

We made our way back to up to Zabriskie Point, changed from a wide-angle lens to a telephoto, and got some shots off right as the clouds started to glow.

Ex seemed pretty amused after I was done. "Happy?"

"Yup... happy." I did have a big smile on my face.

We head back to camp for some beef jerky and cup noodles.


Focal length: 90mm - First time using a telephoto for landscape! Finally put that 70-200mm to good use!

Aperture: f/20

Exposure: 20 seconds

ISO: 100

Filter: 3-stop GND soft

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Taken on November 23, 2010