Tag Archives: Death Valley

Death Valley Mystery

“The Race Track”
Death Valley National Park, Nevada

What the ????? How did the rock get here? Who or what pushed it? Or was it pulled? Scientists have been studying this since the early 1900’s. Theories have changed over time. In fact, the prominent theory at the time I took this image seven years ago has changed.

The current theory is developed from using time-lapse photography, weather stations, and GPS devices. During the winter of 2013, the elements came together and scientists were able to record the phenomenon of the sliding rocks. During a rain fall followed by an extreme cold night, a thin layer of ice formed. The ice lifted the rocks from the playa surface. The next morning, the ice started to melt creating a thin layer of water between the ice and the playa. The ice sheet started to break up leaving sections of the sheet floating on the water. Winds came up blowing the smaller ice sheets with the embedded rocks across the playa.

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Death Valley: Titus Canyon – III

131205_DV_Titus Canyon_III by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MKIII with EF24-70mm f/2.8L @ 45mm, f/8.0, 0.3 sec, ISO 400

Black and white granite markings laced with thin red lines decorate the narrow canyon walls at the bottom of Titus Canyon.  The formations range from random lines, to indian pattern, to letters.  Since I am the KGG the III, this pattern caught my eye right away.  To bring out the contrast, the rocks were spritzed with water.  It was amusing watching our workshop instructors racing back and forth between the students spritzing the walls with water bottles.  I forgot which gave out first, the light, the water, or our instructors.


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Death Valley: Charcoal Kilns

131204_DV_Charcol Kilns by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MKIII with EOS 24-70mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/22, 1/15 sec., ISO 400

These charcoal kilns seem to be in the middle of nowhere in Wildrose Pass.  They were built by Swiss engineers in the the 1870’s to feed the smelters of Modoc Mine about 25 miles away.  This was the closest source of wood.

The most difficult part of taking this image was to avoid the row of other photographers trying to take the same image.  See below.

131204_DV_Charcol Kilns_2 by Karl Graf.


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Death Valley: Rhylolite Merchantile

131203_DV_Rhyolite Mercantile by Karl Graf. Canon 7D, EF 24-70mm f2.8L @ 70mm, f/11, 1/640 sec, ISO 400

Rhylolite is a old ghost town just west of Beaty, Nevada.  See the following site for a brief history of the settlement:  http://www.rhyolitenevada.com/rhyolite_history_settlement.html.  There is a lot of history behind this little settlement.  We were here a very short time for a quick shoot.  It will be a place that I go back to.

This image was taken in the bright early afternoon sun.  The color image looked very blah.  Black and White gave it a little punch.

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Death Valley: Blurred Past

131202_DV_Car by Karl G. Graf.

Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS @ 100mm, f/11, 1/90 sec, ISO 200

Throughout Death Valley, there are artifacts of the blurred history of people trying to work the land.  This photo was taken at an abandoned copper mine and home site.  What is the story behind this site?  How hard life must have been?  What kind of people lived here in the extreme heat of the summer and the extreme cold in the winter?  What did they get from all their toil?  What was the event or series of events that triggered them to leave?  I am sure the history behind this site is a whole story by itself.

To help the image of a blurred history, I added a vignette blur on the edges.


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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Tracks

131201_DV_Tracks by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 270mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 200

No these are not Chuck’s footprints!  As I admire the grandeur around me, I try to remember to look up and down as well as side- and backwards.  This time as I looked down, I was treated by a little critter’s path along the sand.  Micro scenes like this abound everywhere just waiting for one to notice.

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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Depression

131130_DV_MesquiteDunes_Depresssion by Karl G. Graf.  Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 135mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 200

Back to Death Valley.  Chuck Kimmerle commented on one of my past blogs regarding the traps of “Following the Leader”.  He stressed the importance of creating one’s own image, not to follow some other expert.  I fully agree with Chuck.  I tend to get bored very quick when I line up my tripod with a group to capture that iconic image.  It is nice to have a shot or two, but they end up as a reference … not one of my favorites.  When I am with a group, I tend to wander very quickly away and get lost in my own explorations.  This is where I find my most enjoyment.

For this image, I was following Chuck’s foot steps and saw that he had put down his tripod.  I looked forward and to sides and saw some nice shapes of dunes, but nothing excited me.  As I was about to trek on, I looked back and saw this interesting small depression between the dunes.  I quickly walked back to get a perspective that I thought was interesting.


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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Ripples

131128_Mesquite Dunes - Ripples by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 280mm, f/11, 1/90 sec, ISO 200

This was one of Chuck’s stops.  He even put down his tripod to take an image.  What caught my eye was the contrast between the smooth dune face and the ripples on the down hill side.  I also liked the “scallops” on the dune’s edge.

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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – Waves

131127_Mesquite Dunes - Waves by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 98mm, f/22, 1/4 sec, ISO 200

This image was taken along the trail of Chuck Kimmerle’s footsteps.  He did not stop here, so must have not thought it was interesting.  The mini-scene reminded me of a set of waves rolling into shore.  I worked the scene from multiple angles and came up with this as the view that most depicted waves.  I actually was thinking B&W when I took this image.  The shadows and early morning light provided the sharp contrast along the sand ripple edges.

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Death Valley: Mesquite Dunes – First Light

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS with 1.4X extender @ 280mm, f/22, 1/2 sec, ISO 200

First light across the dunes was a dramatic sight.  The dune directly in front of me caught the brilliant first light of day, while the dune behind was still in shadow.  This moment lasted only a few seconds.  If you look hard at the background dune, you can see traces of sunlight on the tops of the ripples.  A moment later everything was in bright sunlight.  I was lucky to be set up and just waiting for the sun to break.

I experimented with this image to create a B&W version.  I felt that the bright area was just too much in the B&W version.  I like the warm tan sand contrasted against the grey background shadow in color version.  Below is the B&W version.  Choose for yourself.

131126_Mesquite Dunes - First Light B&W by Karl G. Graf.

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