Today was a good day for photographing. By early afternoon, cumulus clouds floated over the eastern ridges of Death Valley. It was pleasantly warm with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. We drove down Westside Road to look for possible places to shoot the Milky Way. The road was rough and rocky in a lot of the areas, and the scenery was very limited. We drove 20 miles before realizing the road didn't rejoin the main highway just below Bad Water like I thought. That meant we had to turn around and re-trace our steps on the same rough road.
We continued toward Badwater on the main park road with several stops to shoot the colors of the rock layers against the blue skies and puffy, white clouds. The contrast was great, so I'm hoping for some good images.
Badwater has changed dramatically since we were here last. Years of drought have drained nearly all water from Badwater, and there's only a tiny, sad-looking puddle left. The Park Service has done major renovations to the area with boardwalks, a new parking area, and new facilities. Now, you have to walk for 20 minutes to reach the salt-encrusted areas where we used to take macro photographs.
As we drove back to camp at 3:30, we noted the lack of clouds in the sand dune area, but we've seen this before. Today was different. The clouds didn't roll in, and we had sunshine on the dunes for the first time. There was a breeze that stirred up the sand enough to completely obscure the view of the dunes from the road, but it only lasted a few minutes. We decided to take our chances and hiked into the dunes. Once we reached our favorite area, we split up; each of us hiking up a different valley. I ended up where Carol had shot previously, and she ended up in "my valley." The wind had erased all traces of our previous adventures, and we had a new scene to photograph. The sunlight was filtered by the sand in the air, so we never had sunset warmth, but it was the best lighting we've had. We only had about 90 minutes of good light, so we were trying to get to as many of our favorite places as we could. The dunes were relatively empty of other visitors except off in the distance where they'll be easy to erase. We should have some good photographs from today.