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A pop of sunlight illuminates a small section of the barren yet beautiful erosional landscape near the Badlands of Death Valley National Park.

I was so intrigued by the complex details of the geology and becoming almost overwhelmed by the vastness of the landscape. I think many would agree that sometimes Death Valley can be an intimidating and a confusing location to make photographs and I was struggling with that on this morning. I didn’t like the lines. I didn’t like the light and I didn’t like my compositions.

Nothing seemed right.

On more than one occasion I’ve heard better photographers than me say, “sometimes less is more.” So, for this photograph (and the several others that I made at or near this location) I switched to my 70 – 200mm lens and began to simplify the complexity of the landscape in my compositions by tightening up my shots. Looking through my view finder, this felt and looked much better. I finally worked out a couple of compositions that I liked and took the shots. Then, without warning a section of thinner clouds passed in front of the sun allowing more and brighter light to illuminate a small section of the desert landscape while the rest remained awash in shadows. I quickly repositioned my tripod, framed up this composition, readjusted my exposure for the brighter light and released the shutter.

Camera Settings:

F16, 1/20 SEC, ISO 500, Focal Length 160mm

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