Moving rocks

The Racetrack Playa

I recently took a trip out to Death Valley National Park to visit the Racetrack Playa. What an amazing place! I’ll be writing more about it in my next few blog posts, but for now I wanted to share with you some of the photographs I made during my visit.

The sun is rising at the Racetrack

The sun is rising at the Racetrack

Going to the Racetrack is an event. It’s something many photographers dream about doing from the first moment they see a picture of those mysterious moving rocks. Why are photographers so fascinated by this place? It is certainly an odd sight to see, but from a photographer’s perspective, it’s a dream location. Everything is set up for you. A beautiful location. A dry lakebed, which itself is a really interesting subject with its patterns of mud. Amazing mountains in the distance. You want a foreground element? OK, pick a rock! Need some leading lines to make a stronger composition? The rock’s trailing path is ideal!

The Racetrack Playa seems to have been hand-made specifically for photographers. The best part of it is that the rocks tell a story. Each rock has gone on a journey, and that history is part of the photograph. Photographs that tell a story are strong photographs. There are so many opportunities to create photographs like that at the Racetrack Playa.

Moving rock at the Racetrack in the afternoon

Moving rock at the Racetrack in the afternoon

When I arrived, I immediately ventured out onto the playa. The rocks start about a half mile away. Many of the rocks closest to the road have been ruined by people’s footprints when they walked on the playa when it was wet. That’s a terrible shame, because those footprints will remain for many years. You have to continue farther out to find the good rocks and trails.

Shortly after sunset at the Racetrack

Shortly after sunset at the Racetrack

I found a couple rocks that were near each other and decided to focus photography at sunset on those two. They were close enough to each other that I could alternate between them and create a couple different compositions.

That night I did some astrophotography and created some photographs of the Milky Way and the moving rocks. I’ll write a separate article about that experience. I was up for most of the night, and in the morning I made some additional photographs before and during the sunrise.

My trip to the Racetrack Playa was an amazing experience. I loved seeing these mysterious moving rocks, and it was a great joy for me to create these photographs of them.

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