Night Sky Over Death Valley Sand Dunes

The morning I took this was probably one of my favorite landscape photography shoots I’ve ever been on. While in Death Valley, I had mixed luck with night photos. Either the wind was kicking up too much sand, there were unfortunate clouds blocking the Milky Way core, or I was simply too tired to spend all night out.This morning I had none of those things. I set my alarm for 1:30 AM and headed from my campsite to the sand dunes. By 2:30 AM, I began hiking out to the middle of the dune field looking for dunes that would be good foreground interest for the Milky Way.

I made quite a few compositions from all over the dune field while exploring the place pretty much on my own. Sure, there were a few other photographers around, but the dunes are so vast that once I hiked a mile or two in I was totally basically alone.

Being in the middle of the dunes, alone, with nothing but quite and stars was such an amazing experience that I loved even more than any photo I took.

This is one of the last photos I made that morning before the sky was too bright to see the Milky Way. You can see the predawn glow start to light up the sky.

After this, I stayed among the dunes for sunrise and got some really nice photos on my last morning in the park. All in all, I spend from 2:30am-8:00am in the dunes and I loved every minute of it.



Date Taken: March 8, 2022

Equipment: Sony a7rIV, Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens

Settings (sky): 16 mm | 13 sec | f/2.8 | ISO 6400 | 10 Exposures Stacked for Noise

Settings (foreground): 16 mm | 30 sec | f/3.5 | ISO 6400 | 10 Exposures Stacked for Noise