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Archive 2013 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red R...
  
 
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #1 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Dear Lucky Westerners photographers..

I am so impressed with all the postings that I see here.. and from the good impression from my last trip, I am visiting Death Valley again next month for 13 days. Please fill me with your valuable suggestions what so ever.. so I could be successfully capturing wonderful scenes.

I am kind of organizing my schedule as following.

I am renting Ford Escape 4WD SUV from Las Vegas airport at $622 for 13 days.
I am not quite sure if this vehicle will survive the driving to the Racetrack which is my first priority from this trip.

=====

Arriving to Las Vegas on 2/6/13 AM and leaving on 2/19/13 PM

LV -> Valley of Fire -> Zion -> Death Valley -> Mono Lake -> Death Valley -> Red Rock Canyon -> LV -> DC

2/6 LV to Valley of Fire | VoF sunset
2/7 Vally of Fire to Zion | VoF sunrise -> Zion sunset
2/8 Zion sunrise and all day at Zion
2/9 Zion to Death Valley | Zion sunrise -> DV sunset (Zabriskie)
2/10 DV - Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes sunrise - Ubehebe Crater - Racetrack sunset & milky way shot
2/11 DV - Racetrack sunrise - Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes sunset
2/12 DV - Badwater sunrise - shopping - Dante's View sunset
2/13 Death Valley to Mono Lake | Zabriskie sunrise -- Father Crowley Vista -- Mono Lake sunset
2/14 ML - Mono Lake sunrise & sunset & whatever
2/15 Mono Lake to Death Valley | Mono Lake sunrise - Bishop, Lone Pine, to maybe Badwater sunset
2/16 Death Valley to Red Rock Canyon | DV - Dante's View sunrise then head to Red Rock Canyon sunset
2/17 Red Rock canyon to LV | Red Rock sunrise then head to LV
2/18 LV architectural indoor and outdoor - night scene
2/19 LV morning shot then to the airport to DC

I would sincerely appreciate it very much if you could advise me with your experienced opinion.

Thanks

Kee



Jan 12, 2013 at 07:28 PM
AMaji
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p.1 #2 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Kee,

First of all, I am now jealous of you

Your itinerary seems quite doable. Here are a couple of points that I wanted to bring up for you to remember.

1. on 2/6-2/7 night, where will you stay for the night in VOF? Only option there is camping in the park. There are outfitters that will rent you stuff for that.

2. Try to be at the Zion Sunset (if you are going to do Night Watchman from the Bridge) about 2 hours before sunset. The competition for space usually is fierce there.

3. Zion to Zabriskie is a good 5 hours drive. You can get carried away at Zion, so make sure you leave the NP around 10 am.

4. There are some weird time zone changes there. Just take note.

Enjoy your trip and good luck with your photos.




Jan 12, 2013 at 08:09 PM
JimFox
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p.1 #3 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Hey Kee,

That sounds like a fun trip. I only have a few seconds here to comment, so just some quick thoughts. Your Ford Escape will be fine, don't pay extra for the 4wd unless you have something more planned then the drive out to the Racetrack. The road to it is rough in a few spots, but nothing that requires 4WD. As to your schedule, you are hitting DV twice which usually seems wasteful, though it's easy to cut acrosss and have to drive through DV anyway, so I am guessing that's what you are thinking.

Jim



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #4 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Thanks AMaji,

Well.. you have been all these places numerous times...

Yes, I do have a reservation for 2/6/13 -- about 10 miles from VoF. I am not good at camping, but I may end up staying there all night in case I want to shoot the stars!!

Yes.. it is weird that from VoF to Zion.. there will be one hour difference, so i should be taking care of that to check the sunset time. OK I will arrive early enough to occupy the best spot on the bridge. But where is the best spot?

I am planning Watchman from the bridge, Towers of the Virgin, etc. I am doing research... this site is great.

Zion to Zabriskie would be a killing driving.. but I will manage to leave as soon as I get the sunrise shots from Zion.

Thanks again.

Kee



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:39 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #5 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


If you are visiting DEVA for that long (though it looks like you'll also hit a bunch of other locations), rather than trying to hit specific spots, use that large amount of time to explore and investigate and develop your own relationship to the place. Broadly speaking, here are some thoughts:

1. Icons are worth shooting, but since you'll be there so long, don't just shoot them "whenever." Instead, reserve them for days when the particular conditions are such that they might produce above average image possibilities. Be aware of things like passing weather systems that might bring clouds, the possibility of including water in your photographs if rains continue, shooting dust storms should they arise, and so forth.

2. Given the extended time, in addition to shooting things at the traditional "best" times (e.g. - Zabriskie at sun rise), try some of these familiar subjects at unusual times - midday, evening instead of sunrise (and vice versa), during various weather conditions, etc.

3. As you start to feel that you have exhausted the place - and this will probably happen at times during such a long shoot - get out a map, look in a book, have a conversation with a ranger... and head off so some of those out-of-the way places that you might not think would be so exciting if you were just there for a few days. I'm not going to start listing them - that contributes to turning them into over-populated, busy places - but you'll figure this out with a bit of thought and curiosity.

I note your lengthy and very detailed itinerary. Such a plan is perhaps necessary when time is tight, but it can be counterproductive when you have more time available. ("If it's Tuesday, it must be Zion.") Do have a list of things that you would like to visit and even times of day. But I encourage you to be a lot more flexible than that plan suggests and take opportunities as they come. (On a recent long trip to Utah, we planned to visit a particular place early on, and we did so. Conditions were extremely challenging and our results were not what we hoped. Later we gave up another pre-planned diversion and returned to that first place and the results were wonderful. Flexibility made this possible.)

Dan



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #6 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Dan, you are absolutely right that the flexibility is a must especially where photography is involved.
The above schedule will serve me as a guideline and I do have lots of thought going on in my mind as to how I can improve my photography level to be more artistic as well. so much to learn.
Your advice is re-enforcing my thought process. And thanks a lot, Dan.
-Kee



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #7 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Hello Jim,

Thanks for your advice. IF I make a trip to Mono Lake after DV, then I would have no other better routes than going back to DV on my way to LV. Depending on the situation, I may cut off Mono Lake and stay longer other places to capture anything interesting coming at me. In order to visit the Racetrack, reading all the material here, I am inclined to check out the compact SUV. I hope I don't get the flat tire though..

I am slowly making all the lodging arrangements for the trip.

Kee



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #8 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Hello Jim,

Thanks for your advice. IF I make a trip to Mono Lake after DV, then I would have no other better routes than going back to DV on my way to LV. Depending on the situation, I may cut off Mono Lake and stay longer other places to capture anything interesting coming at me. In order to visit the Racetrack, reading all the material here, I am inclined to check out the compact SUV. I hope I don't get the flat tire though..

I am slowly making all the lodging arrangements for the trip.

Kee



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #9 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Check out: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=127&month=2&year=2013&obj=moon&afl=-12&day=1

Some of your DV sunset shots might enjoy a crescent moon hovering over the Panamints. Same situation with your VoF and Zion sunrises.

Get a map, be it paper or electronic, and try to work out just where and when you want to be at these times. Keep in mind that the moon will move south of it's rise/set azimuth as it rises in the sky.

As always, "Get the Digonnet book. Now!" There's no excuse for running out of things to shoot in DV. isbn 0965917800

Bodie would make a good mid-day diversion from Mono Lake. The roads will possibly be closed due to snow. (I've no idea how 'possibly.') http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509



Jan 13, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #10 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Yes, Greg. I am going to Barns & Noble to get that Digonnet book.

Moon rise and Moon set schedule at LV is of value to my planning as well.

Thanks again.



Jan 13, 2013 at 05:37 AM
 

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Greg Campbell
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p.1 #11 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


My one minor reservation regarding the Digonnet book is that it's written from a hiker's POV, not a photographist's. I've only scratched the surface of his material, but have noticed that some of the destinations he considers to be superb just aren't, IMO, all that photogenic. You might want to follow up any tempting destinations with a 'net search for reports or photos. That said, the book is probably the best guide to the area in print.

Enjoy your trip!



Jan 13, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Charlie Shugart
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p.1 #12 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


An excellent plan, Kee.
And lots of good advice.
One problem I foresee: unless things have changed, it's against the law to stay overnight at the Racetrack. And the last time I was there, there was no outhouse- which is needed for all the day trippers there are, and for overnighters
Charlie



Jan 13, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #13 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


As to the Racetrack.. yes I was planning to do car camping overnight to be able to do the sunset and sunrise shots.
If this is not allowed, I may need to get there early in the morning like Fred.. starting driving at 2:30 am to do the sunrise shot with possibly some night shot before sun rises.. then going around and do the sunset shot before getting out. Oh.. in this case driving in and out would be in the dark. What I hear is that at the south end of the racetrack there is a camping place... In order not to be in trouble.. well.. I should not be eating nor drinking... that would cause me to die... oh, boy!



Jan 13, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #14 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


As for the lodging at the Zion.. I have a great price at the Driftwood Lodge perhaps because of the off-season?
$59/night is not too bad.



Jan 13, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #15 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Here is some information that I have just had from Furnace Creek Inn Jeep Rental Place.

Commercial rental cars are not allowed to be at the Racetrack, period. (or off road, I guess)
Jeep Rental Car place will charge two days fee if the rental jeep is returned the next day even though within 24 hours.
Earliest pick up time is at 8AM and needs to be returned by 10PM to be charged one day fee.
Therefore...
My plan is to pick up smaller car from the LV airport like mid size sedan for $480 for 13 days, then rent a Jeep at ~$230/day.



Jan 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM
kscott_99
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p.1 #16 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Having gone west many times, I've successfully resisted the urge to go too many places on one trip. I now try to only shoot one or two major locations on one trip. This last time I shot 4 days in each location allowing days where it wouldn't be ideal and I would have to scrap my original list of things I wanted to shoot and and do a plan B. Such as no clouds at the Fire Wave in the morning, or another morning the clouds so dense there wasn't any good sun until after 10am. If you dont want to camp at the Valley of Fire you can do the motel in Overton (Lakeside Inn). Its clean around 70 some dollars a night and the owners cater to many photographers and photo groups. The only drawback is you'll have a 14 mile drive to the center of the park at 5:00am to get the first light.
Do plan to have water and snack as there is nothing out there and you'll have to wait to get back into Overton to eat.

They just graded the racetrack road which means ground clearance shouldn't be an issue in your ford, but you may be changing a tire if they are not rugged enough. The day I was out there we saw two vehicles with donut tires from punctures. you have to be very diligent in not running over the very pointed rocks in the road. leave very very early to capture the first light as it's a long drive from furnace creek ranch. Fred Miranda left at 2am. I left much later and had to face tough lighting and lots of people wandering around into the shot.

If you choose Zion Bryce canyon is a good location in the winter as well but the lodge will be closed. I like the snowy photographs of Bryce the most.

good luck

Kevin.



Jan 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #17 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


rhee wrote:
As to the Racetrack.. yes I was planning to do car camping overnight to be able to do the sunset and sunrise shots.
If this is not allowed, I may need to get there early in the morning like Fred.. starting driving at 2:30 am to do the sunrise shot with possibly some night shot before sun rises.. then going around and do the sunset shot before getting out. Oh.. in this case driving in and out would be in the dark. What I hear is that at the south end of the racetrack there is a camping place... In order
...Show more

There is a small camp area just beyond the south end of the playa - perhaps a mile or two more and right before the road starts into some country you don't want to drive into. There are no facilities at this campground, but it is a very quiet and peaceful place.



Jan 13, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Steve Sieren
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p.1 #18 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Rhee, take a cheap air compressor with you, getting 2 flats is highly unlikely but it's happened to me only once after many trips in and out of the Mojave.

~Steve

www.PhotographDeathValley.com
www.MojaveDesertPhoto.com
www.EasternSierraPhoto.com



Jan 15, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #19 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


Steve, thanks for the advice.

Report:
1. I made a reservation for one day Pink Jeep from Furnace Creek. Good news is that I can pick it up previous day between 4 and 5pm and I can drop that off the next day even after 5pm - they will charge me one day.

2. Somehow, I got a fantastic deal through Hotwire.com for Ford Escape at $487.64 supplied by Hertz, for 13 days. Even though I can use this SUV for the Racetrack adventure... but due to the rental car regulation.. I am going to use Jeep Wrangler.. it will be fun. At the same time.. possible snowed road.. I would need SUV anyway driving to Mono Lake.

I am still planning and planning.



Jan 16, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #20 · ADVICE needed - Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Zion, Red Rock Canyon


One more note: Steve.. you have a fantastic gallery that I enjoy a lot.


Jan 16, 2013 at 03:40 PM
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