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Layers of the Desert

An Interesting Journey Through Death Valley

By Veronica HDPublished 4 years ago 4 min read

As the sun started to set on the sand dunes of the Death Valley desert, I was still drenched in sweat scaling the sides of the hills to get to the middle of the desert where I wanted to get the perfect photo.

(Of course I meant taking photos with my professional camera, not with my iphone)

My family and I only had a few days to spend in Death Valley, and it so happened that the hottest day of the week was the one we had decided to take a hike through the dunes for a photography shoot.

That day earlier in the morning, we had hiked through another section of the park, to get morning and day time pictures of the salt lands and other various desert features. We were exhausted from the heat and workout after that, but only had so much time to spare to relax before heading out again on this special trip to the dunes, where we knew we needed to be for golden hour.

The temperature increased throughout the entire morning and day time, and got to a high of 45 degrees Celsius at the very moment we made our way to start the hike through the dunes. I’m not sure how abnormal that is for that location, but it is certainly extremely hot for a Canadian girl like me! But even so, I kept trekking along behind my dad and sister who were much fitter than I at the time, and maybe more tolerant to the sun than I because I am much paler than them.

We kept climbing up and down the hills, up and down, never satisfied with the view at each peak. We were determined to reach the high peak at the centre of the desert to get the 360 degree view of the dunes circling below us.

After carrying my backpack, equipment, and water all day, I was tired of carrying so much. I drank the rest of my water hoping I would not dehydrate so much on the way back to the car. I also put my camera away in my bag, so it was not in the way of my swinging arms that were giving me the bare minimum of momentum I need to keep going.

After about an hour or so, the sun was finally starting to form beautiful shadows across the sand dunes as it descended towards the horizon. It was then becoming clear what the purpose of all of this was, this was going to be a once in a lifetime experience for a girl like me who lives nowhere near a desert.

While climbing over and down into a dip in the dunes, I felt the need to take a picture of the view I was seeing before me. I needed a record of this incredible experience, a memory of the heat, the large hills, the exhaustion, the journey and the beauty. I took my iPhone out and snapped the photo posted above, showcasing the layers of the striking blue sky, the warmth of the sand, and the shadows made by the setting sun.

Some features to notice in the picture : In the middle of the photo, you can see the silhouettes of my dad, my sister, and I, which casts us in a unique way onto the canvas of the desert, and the story of this picture. On the sand dunes itself, you can see the footsteps of all the previous adventurers who had also set out on their own hikes for the same reasons, to experience the desert it’s full glory.

This experience was unforgettable, and worth every step that you take into the heat of the desert. I may not have captured the view that most people would be dragging themselves up the dunes for, with the full 360 landscape of the shadowed hills, but I did capture my perspective in the midst of the journey to the top.

Later when editing my image in VSCO, I cropped the image to accentuate three layers of the sky, sand, and shadow. I also increased the highlights to make the sky extra blue, and the sand extra warm. And the final touch was to deepen the shadows to make sure the layers are emphasized between each other. I am no professional photographer or editor, so I only work on the image on my own personal judgement and taste, I hope I did the image justice!

Thank you once again for reading! I am very grateful for any support I get, and if you enjoyed my story, check out some of the other ones I have posted! Xoxo

travel photography

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