Yosemite--Finally!

I visited Yosemite National Park in 2015, but until very recently I have not offered prints of my photographs from Yosemite.

El Capitan Starry Night, Yosemite National Park

Until now I have not printed my Yosemite photographs. Why did it take so long for me to start printing and selling these photographs? Honestly, I have no idea! But I am pleased to announce that I am now selling prints of two of my favorite photographs from Yosemite.

The photograph above is from a well-known location in Yosemite Valley looking back at El Capitan on the left. Unfortunately during my visit the skies were clear most of the time, and the sunsets and sunrises were bland as a result. The snow adds an extra dimension of interest, however, and since I wanted something going on in the sky I decided to wait until it was dark enough to capture the stars in my photograph. I love the combination of stars and snow--something about that makes the photograph feel extra cold to me.

Half Dome on the Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Here’s the other photograph I have printed. I love this one too. It’s one of the few black and white photographs I have made. I thought that it would be appropriate to make some black and white photographs in Yosemite where Ansel Adams made many of his famous images. I don’t like to compare myself to the master, but I will say that one of my customers at the Sacramento Arts Festival who purchased a print of this photograph said that it will go well with their collection of Ansel Adams photographs. I was truly flattered by that comment.

So it took some time for me to get to print these photographs, but I love the results, and I’m excited to be selling them at art festivals and online now. I hope you enjoy them!

Palm Tree Silhouette

One of the primary features of Palm Springs is its many palm trees, so the city is aptly named.

Palm Tree Silhouette, Palm Springs, CA

This grouping of palm trees is located near the north end of Palm Springs. I made this photograph at sunrise when the yellow and orange light created beautiful silhouettes of the palm trees against the early morning sky. I usually try to avoid large areas of complete blackness in my photographs. I want to have a proper exposure and maintain at least a small amount of detail even in the dark shadows. But in this photograph I wanted a full silhouette. The trees are pure black here, and I wanted to have that contrast between the silhouetted palm trees and the bright, colorful morning sky. The contrast brings out the glow of the sky and also accentuates the shapes of the trees.

This is one of those photographs that probably anyone could make. It’s not a location that’s difficult to get to. It’s not a technically difficult photograph to make. It’s a pretty straightforward composition too, and lots of other compositions would probably have worked equally well. So on a technical level, anyone can do it. But I find that to be the case for many photographs. Assuming you are in the right place at the right time, which does take some planning, patience, persistence, and a little bit of luck--but given all that, if you are a technically competent photographer you will be able to make any photograph you’ve seen others make. But that’s just the thing. The point is I did not make this because I saw someone else make it. I’m not copying something I’ve seen someone else do. This was my idea at that time. Maybe it’s not an original idea--surely it’s been done many times before. But it was my independent idea, and it was the story I wanted to tell at the time. That’s the key. For a photograph to work, it has to be a natural and honest expression of the photographer. It has to tell that photographer’s story. In other words it has to be an artistic expression. Otherwise it’s just a pretty picture.

I don’t often make silhouette photographs, but it felt like the right thing to do in this case. The simplicity of the photograph helps tell the story of the palm trees of Palm Springs on a calm morning at sunrise. It’s that story that I’m telling--that attempt at communication I’m making--that makes this photograph worth sharing. Maybe anyone could have made this photograph, but not everyone would have told that story, and that’s what I hope comes through in photographs like this one. Like all my photographs, it reveals something about me. It lets me tell part of my story.

Las Vegas Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show

The Las Vegas Harvest Festival Original Art and Craft Show is this weekend! To promote the festival, I appeared on Channel 8 Las Vegas Now earlier this week.

This is the 31st Las Vegas Harvest Festival, and I am proud to be a part of it. There will be over 250 artists an artisans, and this year it is taking place in the World Market Center Pavilion 2.

I hope to see you this weekend, September 7-9 at the Las Vegas Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show. Here are some more behind the scenes images from my TV appearance, courtesy of Channel 8.

Sweeping Surf

Many of my photographs elicit a response from people when they see them. People are drawn to them for various reasons. Some of my photographs get less attention, however. This is one of those photographs.

Sweeping Surf, San Diego, CA

I know the story of this photograph and how it was made, so it has meaning to me. Most people don’t have much of a response to it, however. Usually they just pass over it. If they’re looking for an ocean scene and I show them this photograph, they usually say it’s not what they’re looking for. It’s not a typical beach scene or something you normally see in an ocean scene, which might be why people don’t respond to it as much. But one person did have a reaction to it this past weekend in Prescott, AZ, and it was great to find out that someone got something out of the photograph--and exactly what I intended.

I had an interesting time making the photograph. You can see I was at the edge of the water as the waves were coming in and going back out. When the water came in the sands shifted, and despite my solid, sturdy tripod it was impossible to make a long exposure to capture the water’s motion with my tripod moving in the sand. Of course the water was coming in different distances each time. I wanted to be as close as possible, but I did not want the water to overtake me. Several times after setting the tripod and preparing to make an exposure, I saw that the water was going to reach me on the next wave. I quickly picked up the tripod and backed away from the water as it chased me further onto the beach away from the ocean. This happened several times until finally I was able to capture what I wanted.

In this photograph I was trying to show the water sweeping back out to sea as the next wave was just breaking and coming in. I loved the repetitive motion of the water, and I wanted to convey both parts of the cycle--the coming in and the going out.

In Prescott this weekend, a customer was struck by this photograph. She loved it. She described it as having a meditative effect. I never thought of it that way, but I realized that she had gotten the message perfectly. The repetition of water coming in through the surf and sweeping back out to sea was exactly what I was photographing, and I understood how it could have a meditative effect for someone.

Sometimes I think I may have failed to tell a story or convey my intended message in a photograph because people don’t seem to respond to it. But then someone comes along who validates what I did in that photograph. It was great to know she got it, and I appreciated her interpretation of the meditative effects of the photograph. Let me know if you have a greater appreciation and understanding of this photograph now, too!

A Trip to the Moon

I love to photograph the Milky Way. For me it’s just one of those things I love to do. This time I was in Death Valley.

A Trip to the Moon, Death Valley National Park

Yes, this is Death Valley. It may look like I took a trip to the Moon, and that’s exactly what I wanted this photograph to look like!

It’s not difficult to photograph the Milky Way. It takes a little preparation and planning, but once that’s out of the way, if you point your camera at the sky and make an extended exposure on a solid tripod, you’re going to capture the Milky Way easily. So there are really no technical hurdles to photographing the Milky Way.

The real trick is finding a way to fit the Milky Way into your overall composition to make something interesting and perhaps unique. There are lots of obvious things to do. For example, one of the most popular places for photographers in Death Valley is Zabriskie Point. The Milky Way positions itself nicely over Zabriskie Point, so it’s a good place to photograph at night. Here’s the photograph I made there.

Milky Way over Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park. Note Jupiter in the upper right.

Milky Way over Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park. Note Jupiter in the upper right.

But that was the last photograph I made that night, and I really only stopped there on my way out of the park to check it out. There were a couple other photographers there--a crowd at 1:00 AM--so clearly this was a relatively standard place to photograph from.

While I was considering locations during the day, I stopped at Zabriskie Point, but I later found something that gave me an idea. I found a mound or large hill covered with volcanic-looking rocks. To me it looked like the surface of the Moon, and that inspired my idea. Why not make a photograph from this location and make it look like it was taken from the Moon?

There was no vegetation or other signs of life, so it was perfect. The rocks look grey just like on the Moon. The only things that give it away are the slight haze from the atmosphere and some light pollution. Otherwise, I think this is a pretty good representation of the surface of the Moon.

I moved around and made a couple other compositions there. Aside from being a not too hot 80 degrees at night, a strong wind, my car sitting about 250 yards away, and a vehicle driving down the road every now and then, I felt like I could have been standing on the Moon. It was great fun!

Lunar Surface at Death Valley, Death Valley National Park

Visiting and Photographing Dallas, TX

Six years ago I moved from Dallas, TX to Las Vegas, NV. A couple weeks ago I went back to Dallas to visit for the weekend. I noticed a lot of changes in the urban landscape while I was there, and this month I’d like to share some of the photographs I made in Dallas.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science Before Dawn, Dallas, TX

In addition to being a fine art landscape photographer, I specialize in architectural photography. I love bringing artistry to a field of photography that can also be very technical. As both a landscape and architectural photographer, one of my favorite things to do is photograph cityscapes, which are a combination of making a landscape photograph and capturing the built environment. In the photograph above I’ve showcased the Perot Museum of Nature and Science among its neighboring buildings in Dallas.

The Perot Museum opened in 2012 just when I was moving away, and I had not seen it until this visit. Here’s a closer view of the museum during the day.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, TX

Museum Tower, Dallas, TX

The photographs I’m sharing here are mostly architectural, but in many of my exterior architectural photographs I like to bring in the natural landscape to show the environment and help bring life to the images. That’s not as easy to do in a downtown environment, but Dallas has also been building new green spaces to make the city more enjoyable for new downtown residents. The Klyde Warren Park is one example. Adjacent to the park and the Dallas Museum of Art is the Museum Tower, which is a new building that features downtown residential units.

 

And while I’m at it, here’s a look at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

McKinney Avenue Lofts, Dallas, TX

During the day, I wandered around and found a couple buildings to photograph in some nice light. Here is one of them, which is also another downtown residential building. This one is located in the booming Uptown section of Dallas.

 

I also enjoyed photographing this detail of a parking structure.

Parking Structure, Dallas, TX

Over the weekend I went up to Frisco for a photography walk. Here are a few of the photographs I made there.

Frisco, TX

Babe's Chicken, Frisco, TX

Gaby's Blacksmith Shop, Frisco, TX

Frisco, TX

That was my trip to Dallas. Next month, I’ll be back to my regular desert Southwest landscapes. It’s nice to sometimes get far enough away to have the opportunity to photograph something completely different from what I’m used to seeing. I hope you enjoyed that brief view of Dallas, TX!

(To learn more about my architectural photography, please visit https://tesslerphotography.com).

Exploring Nevada - Laughlin, NV

Before a couple weeks ago I had never been to Laughlin, NV, and I didn’t know much about it other than it was a small town with casinos on the river.

Casinos on the River, Laughlin, NV

Earlier this month I took a short trip to Laughlin, explored the surrounding area, and learned about the history of the town. Laughlin was founded in the 1940s as South Pointe and was little more than a settlement that served miners and construction workers who were building the Davis Dam. It remained mostly unknown until the 1960s when Don Laughlin discovered South Pointe and recognized its potential as a resort town.

Don Laughlin built the first casino there, the Riverside, in the 1960s. I like the story about how the town got its name--Laughlin didn’t really want to have it named after him. He wanted to name the town Riverside, but the post office told him that was too common of a name and the mail would not make it there reliably. They chose the name Laughlin for the town. I read a magazine article at the Riverside Hotel in which Laughlin tells how he once checked into a hotel in Chicago, I believe, and filled out the registration card. The people told him he filled it out incorrectly, accidentally placing his name in the space for the city! I guess those kinds of things happen when you share your name with your city.

Riverboat Dock, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Laughlin sits on the edge of the Colorado River. On the other side of the river is Bullhead City, AZ, which developed as a result of Laughlin’s growth. Davis Dam, located just north of the two towns, creates the small Lake Mojave, and this area is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I made this black and white photograph (above) of a dock reaching into the lake in one of the coves formed by the dam.

There are now several casinos along the river, and they are the focus of Laughlin. I enjoyed making these photographs of the small casino town on the river.

Laughlin After Dark, Laughlin, NV

Exploring Nevada - Delamar Dry Lake

I’m starting to take a deeper exploration into the state of Nevada, and for my first stop I visited the Delamar Dry Lake.

Brewing Storm Over Delamar, Nevada

The Delamar Dry Lake is just a couple of hours north of Las Vegas. Like a lot of the land in Nevada, it is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s a secluded location, but it’s not really that difficult to get to. After passing the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge--another interesting location I’ll be visiting soon--I made a right turn off of Route 93 onto Alamo Canyon Road. From there on it was a dirt road all the way to the dry lake. The road was one of the best dirt roads I’ve been on, though. Although surrounded by rocky terrain with boulders and large outcroppings, the road itself was not very rocky. Aside from a few washboard sections, it was very smooth for the entire drive.

Once I turned onto Alamo Canyon Road, I encountered no more people. There were some cattle grazing as well as some deer, rabbits, and birds, but I saw no other signs of life (besides the plants, of course). I wound my way through the rocky terrain and passed by a couple additional dirt roads going in other directions. I wondered where those went--perhaps additional opportunities for exploration in the future.

I continued on my way until I reached Poleline Road, which is aptly named for the set of power lines that run along the road. Here are a couple photographs of the lines.

Electrical lines along Poleline Road, Nevada

Poleline Road from Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada

After arriving at the dry lake, I parked underneath the power lines. When I opened the car door, I could hear a crackling Hertz buzz coming from the power lines. The only other sound came from the wind, which blew strongly across the flat lake bed the entire time I was there.

As the cattle grazed nearby, I walked onto the lake bed. Several cars had driven out there. I could see the tracks. It’s a shame that people can’t show more respect and refrain from driving on the surface and marring it that way. I walked about 300 yards into the lake bed and found a nice section where I had a view of the mountains and the sunset. The surface of the lake bed is very shiny. It almost looks like it’s still wet in places, but it’s not. Here’s a photograph I made to capture the shininess of the surface.

The shiny surface of Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada

I settled in for a while, trying to stay warm in the strong wind. As I left for the evening, it was almost dark, but the cattle were still out grazing. Some of them were very close to the road, and I had to watch out for them. I paused next to one of the cattle, and we looked at each other for a minute. As I slowly pulled away, it resumed its grazing with indifference.

The Delamar Dry Lake is a neat place, and I plan to return for some additional photography there later this year. For now, it was the first stop on my deeper exploration of the state of Nevada.

Delamar After Sunset, Nevada

Ripples in the Mesquite Sand Dunes

Last month I visited the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park. I wrote about my Moon photography on the dunes, but I’d also like to share some of the photographs I made around sunrise and sunset.

Mesquite Dunes Before Dawn, Death Valley National Park

When photographing sand dunes, I like to emphasize the texture of the sand and the ripples of sand across the dunes created by the wind. The best time to do that is close to sunrise and sunset when the sun is low in the sky. At those times the sunlight skims over the top of the sand and creates shadows in the ripples, which adds contrast and brings out the shape of the ripples. In the middle of the day, the ripples of sand are blasted with light from above, so you lose the contrast and texture.

Sunset on the Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park

The other thing I love about the sand at these times is the pattern of curving lines it creates. Here’s another photograph I made around sunset that really shows those lines.

Ripples on Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park

The challenge of photographing the sand dunes in Death Valley, in particular the very popular and easily accessible Mesquite Dunes, is that they are covered with footprints! You have to hike out for a while to get to cleaner dunes, and even there you will find at least one or two foot paths. It is still possible to find clean areas for a composition, however. When I was at the dunes last month, what was really needed was a good wind storm to clear away the footprints and refresh the dunes. On one of my trips a few years ago, I was there during just such a windstorm, and it presented its own challenges! But the ongoing winds allowed me to make a photograph like the one below, where I captured a larger panorama of the area without having to worry about footprints all over the place.

I love visiting the sand dunes of Death Valley. In both calm and windy conditions, they offer lots of great opportunities to create beautiful photographs.

Tranquility on Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park

A Late Moon

I have wanted to make photographs by moonlight for a while, and one of the places I wanted to do this photography was on the sand dunes in Death Valley. I made my first attempt last week, and I’d like to share some of my results and the story of the Moon’s late arrival.

Moon rising over the Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Moonlight is just reflected sunlight, and one of the problems with these kinds of photographs is that depending on the exposure you use, the photographs tend to come out looking like they were taken during the day. But with a different choice of exposure there can be something special about photographing by moonlight. Moonlit photographs can take on a very surreal effect, or they can have a very strong mood to them.

During my moonlight photography trip to Death Valley I decided to adjust my color balance so that my photographs would all have a blue color cast to them. This was not a complete departure from reality. In the darkness of moonlight, an overall blue feeling was perfectly reasonable and realistic in most cases, and it established the correct mood of the photographs. I also chose not to expose long enough to see a lot of detail in the shadows. Had I made a longer exposure, the photographs would have looked much more like daylight images.

Technical details aside, none of the photographs I’m sharing here would have been possible without the Moon, and even though I knew when the Moon was supposed to rise, it was apparently running on its own schedule and decided to be late that night!

I hiked out on the Mesquite Sand Dunes in the late afternoon and made some photographs around sunset. Then I found where I wanted to be for the moonrise and settled in for the wait. I had looked up the moonrise time, which was 8:09 PM, so I had a few hours to wait.

Since it’s January, the sun had set early, and by 6:30 or 7:00 there was no sign of any light coming from the west. At this point, I was committed to staying until the Moon rose unless I wanted to hike back to the car in complete darkness with only a flashlight to guide me--not an appealing option. The whole reason I had come was to make the Moon photographs, so I wasn’t going anywhere, but as the time continued to pass and the temperature started to fall, I was thinking it would be nice just to leave and go home. After a short mental debate I would come back to my senses and continue to wait patiently.

At around 8:00, however, I started to worry because there was no sign of the Moon, which was supposed to be rising in nine minutes. I wasn’t truly worried because I knew the Moon was coming, but my mind started to play tricks on me. Is it really coming? Did I get the time wrong? Of course not. The moonrise time was based on a location of Furnace Creek, about 10-15 miles south of my position on the dunes. The time for me would have been essentially the same. By 8:00 there was not even a hint of twilight coming from the horizon, however. I’m not sure what I expected, but I thought there would at least be a small amount of light coming over the mountains by this time. So there I was, only nine minutes from the scheduled moonrise, out in complete darkness in the middle of the sand dunes with no sign of the Moon’s supposed arrival. Nothing.

Well, 8:09 came and went, and still nothing. What is going on here, I thought? Where is the Moon? All I could do was continue to wait. Finally, at around 8:20 or so, I started to see some light coming from the northeast horizon where I expected the Moon to rise. This photograph is from 8:27:

The Moon is just about to rise, Death Valley National Park

And at 8:30:

The Moon just beginning to rise, Death Valley National Park

The photograph at the start of the blog is from 8:33. Either the time was wrong on the calendar I was using, or the difference was caused by the difference in the apparent height of the horizon due to my location versus what it would be at Furnace Creek. In any case, the Moon had finally arrived, and now I was in business. It was really great. I had the Moon in my viewfinder zoomed in, and I watched it creep above the mountains until the whole Moon was visible. In all of my photographs, I allowed the Moon to overexpose to a white circle, but I also made this photograph correctly exposed for the Moon itself:

The Moon, Death Valley National Park

The Moon was not quite full that night, and you can see the well-defined craters on the top part of the image where the Moon starts to fall into shadow.

I moved around and made a few more photographs, like this one:

The Moon over the Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

When the Moon got too high in the sky to be in my frame, I started to head back to my car--another adventure. At least I had the light of the Moon to guide me. I knew the general direction I needed to go. If I went in that direction I would run into the road, even if I was not right at my car. Navigating the sand dunes by moonlight for 30 minutes, however, meant I’d have to be very lucky to end up right at my car. Well, that’s exactly what happened. I thought I was close to the road, but I wasn’t sure. Then a car drove by, so I knew I was very close. I saw a strange shape ahead, and it looked to me like the underpass of a bridge. I have no idea why it looked like that, but in that light that’s what I saw. I didn’t remember a bridge being anywhere near where I was. My mind started playing tricks on me again. Could I be that far off course? When I got a few steps closer, however, I recognized the shape of my car! Somehow I ended up exactly where I needed to be.

The Moon may have been late that night, but it was great fun making these photographs, and I look forward to doing more of this kind of photography in other locations.

The Moon peaks through a desert plant in the sand dunes of Death Valley National Park.

Reading the Sky

I think I’m developing an uncanny ability to read the sky. I can tell when the sunset is going to be spectacular. As a landscape photographer, I am very interested in having beautiful skies with color and just the right kind of clouds in my photographs.

Five Palm Trees at Sunset, Palm Springs, CA

One afternoon a week or so ago, I looked out the window and saw the sky. It was still at least a couple of hours before sunset, but I thought to myself, if these clouds stay like this, it’s going to be an amazing sunset. The clouds did remain, and sure enough the sky was lit up with bright orange followed by deep magenta and red expanses of cloud formations. It was really amazing. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Orange and yellow fill the sky at sunset.

I went to Palm Springs last month to photograph some of the landscape there. My primary goal was to make some photographs of palm trees, since they are so closely associated with Palm Springs. I had a couple of ideas in mind. I liked the idea of silhouetting the palm trees against the sky. I also wanted to make some photographs that featured both the palm trees and the surrounding mountains.

For the silhouettes, It didn’t matter to me what the sky was doing as long as there was deep color in it. For that, I simply had to photograph in the right direction at the right time. This is one of my results.

Palm Tree Silhouette, Palm Springs, CA

For the mountain photographs, I wanted to have a more interesting sky. On the day I was preparing to make my palm tree and mountain photographs, it was overcast all day. That wasn’t going to be good for my photography that evening. But I never give up in landscape photography, because you never know what can happen.

Later in the afternoon it was still overcast, and no shadows were being cast by any objects because of the fully diffuse light. I noticed a change in the conditions, however. At times the shadows of objects started to become more well-defined--still very hazy, but at least discernible. I looked up, and my sky reading ability kicked in. Even though the sun was still behind the clouds, enough light was filtering through to form these faint shadows. Yes, the clouds were just beginning to thin out. If this kept up without going too far, there would be enough light coming through to illuminate the clouds from below, and that would produce a beautiful display at sunset. I continued my wait now with guarded optimism and excitement for what might be coming.

I found my location and got situated 45 minutes before sunset. The conditions were similar to what they were an hour or two earlier, and I now had much higher expectations for the sunset. The mountains to the west block the sun long before the actual sunset time, and because I was located so close to the mountains, I could not see what was happening in the sky behind them. I waited patiently until the light show began, and it did begin! I started by making the photograph at the top of this blog. At this point the sunset light is mostly orange and yellow because the sun is still above the true horizon. I can’t see it because it’s blocked by the mountains, but the beautiful light was extensive enough for me to see it in the clouds above the mountains.

Three Palm Trees at Sunset, Palm Springs CA

Ten to fifteen minutes later, the sun had set, and now it was lighting up the clouds from below with beautiful magenta and red colors. Here’s the photograph I made then. I love when the sky puts on this kind of light show at sunrise or sunset. This time I anticipated these sky conditions, and thankfully they developed and allowed me to make these photographs.

A Death Valley Oasis

When you think of Death Valley, you probably think of an arid desert and extremely high temperatures. Maybe you think of rattlesnakes, lizards, and scrub brush. All those elements seem appropriate for a place named “Death Valley.”

Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park

But one small area of the park defies these descriptions of Death Valley. It is an oasis of trees and lush vegetation, cool, flowing water and waterfalls, and colorful dragonflies. Darwin Falls is located in the Panamint Springs area of Death Valley near the western edge of the park, and as I discovered during my visit, it is a surprising and refreshing contrast to the rest of the park.

After driving a couple miles on a dirt road, I arrived at the parking area. From there it was about a mile hike to the first of the falls. When I started hiking it was about 85 or 90 degrees outside, and the terrain was the typical Death Valley mountain and desert landscape. As I proceeded, I became aware of some changes in the environment, however. I heard crickets, and there were some large bushes that I wouldn’t normally expect to find in Death Valley. Then there were puddles of water on the path.

These changes quickly opened up into a completely different environment. I heard the running water of a stream, and I was protected from the hot sun by the shade of large trees. I crossed the stream a few times. There was a large pool of water, and I could see tadpoles swimming in it. I continued and began to hear the louder sound of a larger waterfall. Along the way, many dragonflies were flying around the area. I turned the corner and arrived at the Darwin Falls. As I approached, I imagined it might only be a mirage. The flowing water and green vegetation seemed completely out of place in Death Valley.

The water, fed by a spring that sustains the falls year round, poured down fifteen feet into a small but relatively deep pool. It was cold water, and several people came to take a dip in it while I was there. Both red and blue dragonflies inhabit the area. I noticed that the blue ones liked to land on logs and other things, and the larger red ones liked to fly around more. It was a completely surreal scene. It felt like a fantasy. Was this really Death Valley?

It was Death Valley, and it’s another one of the stunningly beautiful features of the Mojave Desert I have encountered in Death Valley National Park. Unlike those other features, however, this small area of refuge is truly an oasis in the desert.