Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos

CONTACT
 

Private Workshop in Death Valley: Part 2

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

View "Private Workshop in Death Valley: Part 1"

For sunrise of the second day of our trip, my student and I visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These dunes are gorgeous and easily accessible (relatively speaking), which, unfortunately, means they are quite popular. And popular sand dunes mean foot-printed sand dunes.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sand dunes are one of the toughest locations to shoot. Climbing up them is like going up the wrong way of an escalator, and before long, 35 lbs of camera gear starts to feel like 50. But that's not the worst part - that's just physical exertion. The real tough part is the footprints. They are damn near impossible to avoid, your own footprints included.

But we went off to a lesser-visited section of the dunes to capture some pristine spots. Of course, the next guy will have to frame out the holes from our tripod legs...

This was my first time photographing dunes at sunrise. I normally catch them at sunset, but the morning light here was gorgeous. I loved the dark, curvy shadows the dunes casted on themselves. And the ripples in the sand...it doesn't get much better than that. The moon even came out to pose for me.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

After a much-needed nap for me, we ventured out into Panamint Valley to photograph the Panamint Mountains at sunset. We camped out near the dry lake bed there to catch the cracked dirt, sand, bushes and all the other weird formations there.

Panamint Mountains at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Panamint Mountains at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Panamint Mountains at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Before heading home on the last day of our stay, we hit Devil's Cornfield at sunrise. Devil's Cornfield is an interesting area where tons of arrowweed bushes dot the landscape - some over 7 feet tall - like stalks of corn (I suppose). They remind me less of corn stalks and more like strange bushes that have been pulled up out of the ground and then set back on the sandy floor of the desert.

Devil's Cornfield at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Devil's Cornfield at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

Devil's Cornfield at sunrise in Death Valley National Park, CA

And to seal off the trip, I did a quick self-portrait with my student, Kim Murphy. Check out that "stalk of corn". I'm 6'2" and that bush is taller than me!

Nick Carver & Kim Murphy at Devil's Cornfield in Death Valley National Park, CA

I had tons of fun taking Kim out on this private workshop. Her work is phenomenal and she's an incredibly talented photographer. Be sure to follow her blog and visit her website here. She also posted a blog entry about the trip, so check that out to see her beautiful photos from Death Valley.

Private Workshop in Death Valley: Part 1

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Last week, I met a student out in Death Valley National Park for a 3-day, 2-night private, one-on-one photography workshop. We stayed in Panamint Springs and spent the trip photographing hot spots like the salt flats, sand dunes and Devils Cornfield. 2 sunrises and 2 sunsets later, we'd seen and photographed some of the most unique landscapes this country has to offer. If you'd like information on planning your own private workshop, drop me a line.

Day 1 brought us through Artists Drive, which is a short one-way tour through a section of the Amargosa Mountains that is stained with colors from various mineral deposits in the rock. Truthfully, this area is tough to photograph because the colors are pretty faint pastels. In midday, the light is harsh and washes out the colors. At sunset, the yellow light blends all the colors together. Great clouds, though. That being said, we did the best we could with what we had.

Artists Drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Artists Drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Artists Drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Artists Drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

The real fun came from the salt flats at sunset. The polygonal shapes of this dry lakebed is unlike anything else on earth. I've been to the salt flats twice in my life and being out there is truly the most surreal experience I've ever had. It's a truly magical place.

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Salt Flats at sunset in Death Valley National Park, CA

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Featured Testimonial: Private Lessons

After taking my 4-Week Landscape Photography class at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, Sheila Dement enrolled in some private photography lessons with me. Having already covered landscape photography in the group class, we focused the private lessons on photographing portraits and family events. Among other things, we covered how to shoot in full manual mode, how to find good light, how to frame a portrait, how to edit photos in post-production, how to use Aperture 3 (the image editing software by Apple) and how to prep files for printing. Sheila was kind enough to write a great testimonial for me that I wanted to share here with you.

Here is one of Sheila's photos from AFTER doing private lessons:

Here is one of Sheila's photos from BEFORE doing private lessons:

Here's what Sheila had to say about my private photography lessons:

I have always enjoyed photography and loved taking pictures of my kids and documenting their lives. For years I never knew how to do anything but auto on my camera. I was happy with my results at times, but there were many occasions when my pictures didn’t always turn out. About 3 years ago my daughter joined a dance team. This led to many performances on stage with low light situations. I was continually frustrated with the poor results that I was getting. I would achieve enough light in my photo, but would get a lot of motion blur. With this frustration I decided I wanted to find someone to help me learn how to use my camera and help me achieve the results I wanted.  

I started to search on line for a class or teacher to help me with my quest. In my search, I came upon Nick Carver's website. I was amazed at what I saw and signed myself up for his 4 week course on landscape photography. I took his class and learned a lot. As I practiced what I learned I started to gain a better understanding on how my camera worked. It surprised me at how easy it was to shoot in full manual. It really wasn't that scary!! After the 4 week course, I took several private lessons from him. This took me to a whole new level. I was even more confident in what I was doing and loved what I was achieving. Nick makes it so easy to understand. He is an amazing, gifted teacher. He helps you understand in such a simple way. He is very knowledgeable and is so willing to share. He is very friendly and fun. I would recommend him to everyone. I love it now when someone says….WOW you took that picture! And I can say yes, I had an awesome teacher show me how. I am so grateful that I found Nick.

- Sheila Dement

If you're in Orange County and are interested in doing private photography lessons, click here for more information. If you're in another part of the state or country and can't make it out here for private lessons, check out my online courses here.