June 2012 Desktop Wallpaper – Death Valley

Every time I’ve shown this photo, I’m always met with extreme curiosity about why the rocks slide across the desert. Is it weather? Humans? UFOs? The truth is no one really knows. The phenomenon has never been captured on film, but scientists speculate that the rocks slide across the desert floor by high winds that are timed perfectly after a rare freeze. The icy surface makes it easy for the 80 pound rocks to glide before settling back down to rest until the next weather pattern blows through. I definitely recommend visiting Death Valley. It is, by far, one of my favorite national parks in the US.

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From the Edge with Peter Lik (Sponsored)

From the Edge with Peter Like on The Weather Channel

Colorful afternoon sunsets, turbulent thunderstorms, and brilliant clouds. Weather is something photographers thrive on in order to turn an otherwise boring scene into the foundation of a dramatic photograph. So, it’s only fitting that The Weather Channel would have a new tv show about a photographer and his adventures taking landscape photos across the United States.

Recently, I was contacted by The Weather Channel to do a writeup on this new photography show, From the Edge with Peter Lik. From the Edge airs Thursday nights with back-to-back episodes at 8 and 8:30PM EST.

Peter is an award-winning Australian landscape photographer who currently lives in Las Vegas, which at first might seem odd considering the nature of his craft and Las Vegas’ notorious reputation for being covered in dirt. Actually, though, the city is one giant hub for some of the most beautiful National Parks in the US. Death Valley, Mount Whitney, and Zion are all located within a few short hours drive, and Peter has numerous photos of all three in his portfolio.

On the first two episodes of From the Edge, Peter visited Hawaii to shoot Kilauea’s flowing lava fields as well as Red Rocks Canyon in Northern Utah. Tonight (4-21), he will be shooting the salt flats of Death Valley as well as ice climbing in Montana’s Glacier National Park in the second episode of the back-to-back.

On the program, Peter goes into detail about the geographic nature and history of the landscape as well as the detail involved in getting the best shot that he can.

He also touches briefly on camera tech, functionality, and best practices for beginners that are just getting into the photography hobby.

Currently on the From the Edge Facebook fan page, Peter is having a photography contest with the opportunity to win an all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas. Be sure to check out From the Edge with Peter Lik Thursday evenings at 8/8:30 PM EST and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

You can find out more about Peter at his web site, blog, or the show’s web site

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Death Valley (part three)

At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America. The pool contains less than an inch of water and is covered with a layer of salt that rises above the basin floor in a multitude of hexagon patterns. The repeated cycles of freeze/thaw creates the hexagon shapes.

The water is, like the name states, unacceptable to drink, and during most times of the year when the basin is low, visitors are able to walk on the surface, often leaving deep footprints in the salt. My friends and I walked beside the salt flats where the basin meets the dirt of the desert in order to minimize the impact of footprints through the middle of the delicate honeycomb shapes.

Badwater in Death Valley, California

Death Valley Badwater Salt Crystals

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Death Valley (part two)

Hoping to find a perfect place for a morning sunrise, we left camp for the Mesquite Flat sand dunes around 4am. Hiking through deep sand is difficult enough during the day time, but struggling to see where you’re going makes it seem very “two steps forward, one step back.” Luckily, night-time made for a pleasant hike before the afternoon heat took over.

When the winds pick up, these dunes are one of several across the world that experience the singing dunes described in the video below. It was perfectly still on the morning we visited, so unfortunately we didn’t experience any songs, but I did manage to capture some great photos.

Mesquite Flat sand dunes in Death Valley

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Death Valley (part one)

This past week I spent 5 days hiking and trekking through Death Valley National Park. Despite temperatures that ranged from the low 90s during the day and the low 20s at night, I had a great time seeing a part of the country that I had yet to experience. My favorite part of the park was the Racetrack Playa, a dry lake bed covered with sailing stones.

When the lake bed receives rains that cover just enough of the playa’s clay surface to make it slick, strong winds upwards of 90 mph push the rocks across the desert floor, leaving trails behind them. Some of the heavier rocks with rough bottoms leave a very deep trail that makes the Racetrack a photographer’s playground.

A path behind a sailing stone on Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park at night.

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