Ok, the name itself, Death Valley, seems to be an anathema to the positive aspects of my HDSereneScapes® films. That being said, I think this film comes together as a very uplifting experience that I hope you all will enjoy.
The location of the film, Death Valley National Park in California, is one vast and amazing place. It can be foreboding, it is desolate and bleak, it is a place of little moisture, barren rock, sand and salt. When I stood in the open spaces of this desert landscape, I often felt I was are going back in time, imagining what life, or lack of it, looked like to the first visitors to this place. Going back further in time, imagining what made the Valley, a once massive lake now depleted to smooth and crusted salt flats, is a real mind expanding experience. The reality that this planet was not created in six thousand years (as some believe) is ever present.
It is my hope that rather than fear of death that no doubt many Indians and pioneers felt coming into this daunting place, one gains an appreciation of the wonder and greatness of life itself, as well as an awareness of how precious and fragile our life on this planet can be.
In consideration of doing this film, I was fortunate to have my good friend Michael Brown agree to guide me around this massive park over a five day period in mid February 2012. To say we lucked out with the weather would be an understatement. We had the full range of atmospheric conditions that made for beautiful and sometimes haunting images of this desert landscape.
We saw and captured a Haboob sand/dust storm move through the Valley on our first day in the park from atop the Amargosa peaks. There were Snow covered mountains and massive alluvial fans, volcanic craters (Ubehebe) and painted desert colors aptly named Artist Pallet, that showed the vast impacts of nature on the land. From the Panamint Valley, over the ridges to Death Valley and its Racetrack Playa to Zabriskie Point and Badwater, the point below sea level everyone wants to experience, we enjoyed beautiful time with comfortable cool weather and few crowds. The experience was amazing.
Michael was on his 13th trip to Death Valley, this was only my second. Although he had not been in the area for almost 10 years, he saw a park that had roads and facilities that were in many cases rebuilt after a 100-year flood in mid 2004. Prior to that, he had been doing photo shoots through out the park for car makers and often would drive at high speed past locations we took the time to stop at. Being a photographer and now experiencing the process of shooting video as I do, it was another new experience for Michael that was quite different than in the days of big production automotive shoots he used to do.
This was a really intense experience for both of us as we often were shooting between 10 to 20 setups a day in this stark and barren world. Having Michael guide me from one location to another at just the right time of day made it possible to complete the shooting of this film and was as critical to the look and feel as was the weather that accommodated us. Puffy rolling clouds, are a rarity in the Valley, and of course the heat in summer is most oppressive. We enjoyed the beauty without the pain.
With climate change and global warming so undeniable now, I hope we use our sense of wonder and love of life on this earth to do what we can to keep the rest of our planet from turning into a vast desert nearly devoid of life.