After Nicaragua, my plan was to spend three weeks in front of the computer catching up on emails and edits. Surprise! I'm not always on the road. But after two weeks and too much espresso, I was done with everything on my list, so why not reward myself with a quick trip to Death Valley National Park?

A few of my friends were in town for an astrophotography event, so in addition to exploring the dunes, we got a crash course in shooting images on telescopes, thanks to the rad folks at OptCorp. I can't even wrap my mind around the technology behind this, but I do know this: These images were unlike anything I've ever seen. The below shot of the Rosette Nebula was taken on a Fuji DSLR and a 600mm telescope, and that's just scratching the surface of what this equipment can do...

After playing around with telescopes for a few hours, we ventured off to the Mesquite Flat sand dunes around midnight. We didn't need headlamps thanks to the stars above us, and I was having so much fun I didn't even bother taking my camera out. I'm not much of a night shooter, but if it's warm enough and my friends are around, I'll stay up until the sun rises. And save for the two hours we napped in our cars that night, that's exactly what we did.

After catching sunrise at Zabriskie Point, our group split, and I chose to stay behind and spend the next two mornings shooting Badwater Basin and the dunes. These are the dunes where my beloved cat's ashes are scattered, and in the four or five times I've shot here, I still feel like I haven't done this landscape justice. Maybe I never will, but that's ok. I love this spot. It speaks to me, and I feel a strange sense of calm whenever I'm out here by myself.

And how far out did I go? Let me just say this. I didn't feel at home until the only footprints I saw were my own.

#DeathValleyNationalPark #MesquiteFlatSandDunes #astrophotography #California