I so rarely post panoramas that I noticed something: I’ve started to do fewer of them. That’s a shame, and so in Death Valley recently I made sure to do a few. This is one. It isn’t too wide and skinny. I have one of this scene which is, and it looks like a thin strip on the computer screen – not good. Panoramas don’t tend to lack impact when viewed on a screen, but when printed out (especially large) they are spectacular. Of course it isn’t cheap to print and frame a pano, but if you put it in the right spot, where it can be examined from fairly close-up, it’s worth it.
This image is similar to a more standard crop I posted for Friday Foto. This was a fantastic storm that swept in toward sunset just as I had emerged out onto the top of the alluvial fan after hiking a canyon. It was very windy, difficult to keep the camera steady enough for sharp shots. In those cases it’s hard to use a tripod unless you weight it down. Often it’s best, if you have enough light, to just hand-hold your shots with the lens’ image stabilization activated.
It’s springtime in the desert and other areas of southern California. Beautiful flowers are blooming everywhere. These moody stormy images aren’t exactly what people want to see right now. But I love these conditions anytime I get to photograph them. And that goes double when I’m in a spectacular location.
Looking down the valley as the storm moved toward me, blowing sand out ahead of it, was invigorating to say the least! And being in an elevated position at the top of an alluvial fan allowed me to capture the distant hulk of Tucki Peak. After this it got dark rapidly and I got to get wet as I walked down the fan into the teeth of the storm. See below for some geologic details for Death Valley and Tucki Mountain. Enjoy and thanks for looking!
Tucki Mtn. & Telescope Pk. are Death Valley’s two iconic mountains. I’ve climbed them both but it’s been quite a long time since Tucki (it can be much tougher than the much loftier Telescope). Tucki sticks outward into the valley in a position where it’s hard to miss. Two or three million years ago the whole Panamint Range, including Tucki, began to slide northwestward off the top of the Black Mountains on the other side of the valley along what’s called a detachment, or low-angle normal fault. In addition Tucki has been pushed up to form a “metamorphic core complex”, where erosion has exposed metamorphic rocks formed far beneath the surface.
Tucki has also been pushed north relative to the mountains across the valley along strike-slip faults related to the San Andreas Fault and plate boundary to the west. Death Valley itself is a graben (German for grave) that opened under extensional stresses as a result of this shearing motion. The bottom literally dropped out and now the valley floor lies below sea level.