Lines In The Sand | Photography Workshop Death Valley National Park | Soft Lite Studios

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Lines In The Sand – Death Valley National Park

Death Valley has a number of unique distinctions, such as being the lowest, driest and hottest place in North America. While these accolades may at first glance not seem very appealing, they do make for an extreme geological display, that yields otherworldly, stunning photographic opportunities. Many of these imaging opportunities are solely unique in this country and even visually scarce world wide.



Jan 4, 2018

Jan 9, 2018






12 Participants




Salt pans, cracked earth tableaus and sand dunes, provide the textured, leading lines that make this region a compositional dream. In our multiple day workshop, we help photographers to not only up their technical game, but we spend significant time learning to see the stark beauty that exists within these scenes. Over the course of our multiple days here, we will thoroughly explore the natural beauty that lies within the desert landscape and learn new ways to capture these scenes so that we may share our observations artfully with others.

Our workshop will focus on two primary goals:

  • Exposure:Our first goal will be to understand the typical prevailing light that we will be working with while in Death Valley. We will consider ways by which we can leverage the digital medium that most of us will be using to capture that often pastel light in the best way possible.
  • Composition:Our second goal will be to explore the elements of design and rules of composition that can be leveraged to achieve striking and powerful compositions that go far beyond simply words telling a story of the desolate beauty that exists within the park.

As conditions allow, we will explore imaging at all hours of the day and night, working on capturing scenes in as many varied lighting conditions as possible.

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  • Lines In The Sand - Death Valley National Park
    2018-01-04 - 2018-01-09
    16:00 - 17:00


Highway 190, Death Valley, California, 92328, United States


Death Valley National Park is a national park in the U.S. states of California and Nevada that is located east of the Sierra Nevada, occupying an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States. The park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 95% of the park is a designated wilderness area. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor of much wetter times.

A series of Native American groups inhabited the area from as early as 7000 BC, most recently the Timbisha around 1000 AD who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains. A group of European-Americans that became stuck in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California gave the valley its name, even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams. The valley later became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies. Tourism blossomed in the 1920s, when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994.

The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology. The valley itself is actually a graben. The oldest rocks are extensively metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, warm, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes. Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, such as Lake Manly.

In 2013, Death Valley National Park was designated as a dark sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Providing astro-photographers in the region and throughout the country with a protected and naturally fitting place for star and star trail imaging.