Death Valley Teaser

We’re back from the Death Valley field trip, more or less intact, a normal share of adventures to relate, and hopefully a sled-load of good photos to go around and add to the portfolios due at the end of the semester.

I’ve not had time to work on my own shots and probably won’t until later this week but I did want to tease you all with one shot from the famous Racetrack Playa, home of the mysterious “Walking Rocks.” This one is more or less straight out of the camera and RAW converter.

The rocks, ranging in size from microwave oven size down to small coffee cup size all come down from the cliffs to the east of the playa brought there by erosion.  They roll out onto the flat dry lake bed and there begin a journey that no one has ever photographed or even ever witnessed though there is no lack of theories to explain the phenomenon.

The rocks manage to get  out in the middle of the lake bed and then slowly start trending to the southern end.  They may go straight, they may curve, they may even double back on themselves, do right angle turns, and even loops… but ultimately they all seem to progress southerly.  I have been there when the surface was strewn with rocks whose furrow trails crisscrossed the place.  This time there were not that many and it looked like they had not moved for over a month or so as the furrows had weathered to about half of their normal depth with the clean edges worn down.

Here is shot of something new for me: two rocks of very different sizes and weights, that seemed  to have moved in tandem.

A pair of "Walking Rocks" strolling across the Racetrack in Death Valley. Canon 5D MkII with Canon 24mm TS/E lens.

A pair of “Walking Rocks” strolling across the Racetrack in Death Valley. Canon 5D MkII with Canon 24mm TS/E lens.

To be honest I do not fully buy the official theory as there are, to me, too many issues with it that are unaccounted for.  But I have no clue what really is at play either so no alternative theories of my own.  And I think I kind of like that there are still, in this age of science and technology, a few reminders that we humans, smart as we think we are, still do not know everything about everything.  It is definitely a fascinating thing to see and ponder.

Later in the week I hope to finish some more images and get them up for you to see.


About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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