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When Is The Light Best?

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, USA.

Join Tony Hewitt and Peter Eastway on a photo tour that includes this location.

23 Jan - 2 Feb 2017, so you need to book now!! See website shop for details.

What a great Christmas present for yourself!


You're too late!

It's not really what you want to hear when you're running up the hill with a full bag of cameras on your back and a tripod in your hand.

We had driven for several hours and only stopped when we absolutely had to (because the light was so good), but those are the decisions you make. Do you photograph something now and risk missing something later, or do you keep driving with no guarantee there will be anything worthwhile later? We did a bit of both and fortunately we were bang on time.

Around half a dozen photographers walked down past us from Zabriskie Point lookout, all with a self-satisfied, knowing little smiles on their faces. They were convinced that they had captured the shots we had missed. And there’s no doubt they had photographed the last rays of sunshine because the sun had disappeared just five minutes earlier.

And so they packed up while we unpacked.

Zabriskie Point is an exercise in erosion without restraint. It doesn’t rain very much in Death Valley, but when it does, the erosion must be quick and severe, as evidenced by the landforms surrounding Zabriskie Point. Completely barren and heavily scarred, it’s a moon-like scene of desolation.

And incredibly photogenic.

However, in direct sunlight, the contrast range between the dark valleys and the illuminated summits is huge, especially around sunset. This contrast can be used to good effect and I hope the other photographers got their shots.

On the other hand, when the sun has set (or before it rises in the morning), Zabriskie Point is illuminated with a much softer, more revealing light source. This is what we were after.

The area in the photograph is surrounded by slightly different types of rocks, so to give the impression this landscape goes on forever, I used a moderate telephoto lens so I could fill the frame with the heavily eroded landforms. I also moved the camera around, testing different angles, both horizontal and vertical, looking for a composition that resonated.

Below is another image taken on the same evening, but using a different colour balance. Is this what Edward Weston would have done were he shooting in colour?


Zabriskie Point, Death Valley.


If you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have trips going to USA, New Zealand, Arnhemland, Georgia/Armenia, Iran, Greenland/Iceland and Mexico. Full details on the Better Photography website!


Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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