Dunes, Shadows, Morning. © Copyright 2019 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Patterns of morning light and shadows on dunes, Death Valley National Park.
I made this photograph early in the morning. A small group of us arrived while it was still dark out, anticipating a walk of perhaps a half hour to get to the area we wanted to visit. Since we wanted to be in position well before dawn, we were set to start walking before there was enough light to see our objective. Someone asked, “Which way do we go?” I looked into the murk, couldn’t really make out the dunes, and guessed, “That way! We’ll correct course when the light arrives.”
In the dunes you find yourself in a veritable photographer’s laboratory of of shapes, juxtapositions, textures, and colors. And it is not static scene either when you are there very early or very late in the day — the light changes quickly. Dusk light lends brings softer light and lens a blue cast to the scene. When the sunlight first arrives there can be stark differences between brightly lit highlights and deeper shadows with cooler tones. Before long the colors began to fade and the scene can become more subtle or even nearly monochromatic. When I made this photograph, warm and color-saturated light was coming across the top of the dunes, but the light in the shadows, still mainly from open sky, was of a cooler blue color.