Death Valley Days

I spent a few days camping in Death Valley with my friend David. We are both interested in photography, but with different intentions. I look for information that will be useful for making paintings, while he’s a landscape photographer. It was great to go and shoot with him because he understands the priority of getting the shot, not moving as quickly as possible to the next place. I shot everything here on a Canon Digital Rebel XTi with either a 75-300 mm zoom or the standard 18-55 mm lens. Slight Photoshop de-saturation.

On the way to Death Valley The Trona Pinnacles Among the pinnacles

We took a detour on the way to Death Valley itself to visit the Trona Pinnacles. These were created by volcanic gases bubbling up through the now long gone lake, depositing minerals and forming these impressive formations.

The view from our campsite

This was the view from our camp on top of Wildrose peak, about 4000 feet above sea level. We watched a snowstorm hit the nearby mountain top and lay down a layer of powder, missing us by a hundred and fifty feet. We lit a fire and enjoyed a hot meal.

beehive kilns eureka

A little further up the mountain we explored the charcoal kilns that have survived since 1877. This is fantastic material for my painting work. Down on the valley floor we explored the Eureka gold mine, built in 1909.


The dunes at the North end of the valley are one of the most popular spots to shoot pictures, because of the beautiful forms that are created by the wind and sand. Again, wonderful stuff for paintings. I have shot here before: you’ll see a scrubby dune in the background of The Death of Modernism, which I’ll post later.
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The white cracked surface is actually rock created by intense pressure upon the mud of the ancient lake bed.
I love this place.

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Towards the edge of the valley there is an immense amount of alluvial material that has been deposited by flood water. I would love to see Death Valley in the rain, it must be intensely dramatic.


This is one of my favourite spots in the world, closely following Dartmoor and Orkney. The huge boulder has pictograms hidden beneath an overhang on the North side of the rock face. A slab rests beneath the shelter and has marks on it where the Native Americans here used to grind meal.


About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
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