An Oasis in the Desert


Tucked away in a narrow and desolate canyon there is water to be found in Death Valley!

Another washboard drive – this time 2.5 miles in fear of a flat tire – and then a one mile hike found me looking up at this wonderful waterfall. Called Darwin Falls, it can be found by hiking along a dried up river bed that slowly gets narrower and narrower, and as it gets narrower, it also gets greener.

Running water can be heard as you clamber over rocks and around bends in the canyon. A welcome respite from the heat of Death Valley, this little oasis is a gem. The further I ventured into the canyon, the more life I encountered. I even saw some genuine wildlife – several lizards, some as large as about a foot in length crossed my path as they scurried about their business.

I didn’t take my tripod on the hike with me. It was pretty hot out – around 80 degrees which was hot for me having just come from 21 degrees in Bangor the day before. I bracketed three shots so that I could try to handle the dynamic range that comes from trying to make an image such as this on a sunny day in a canyon filled with shadows. The camera has a hard time exposing correctly when there is such a range between the light and dark areas in the scene. Our eyes automatically adjust to the scene, but the camera cannot… bracketing exposures allows me to “blend” different areas to create one image that best represent what my eyes saw in person. I would love to have slowed the shutter way down to “feather” the water, but there you go… with bright light and no tripod, this is what you get.



9 thoughts on “An Oasis in the Desert

    • davidpatterson4

      In the summer I’d guess that this place might provide some respite from the hot temps. Though it is hard to tell, the pool below the waterfall really isn’t that big… sort of like a large bathtub, so swimming might not be possible.

    • davidpatterson4

      Thanks… the canyon ended up getting pretty tight, so there weren’t too many options for composition here. Neat place.

  1. QH

    This could be your claim to fame!

    The Y, echoed by the same shapes throughout the composition (The tree dances the message)the light/water merges to the focal point. And the faint heart shape (lower left)positioned towards the falling water…will make everyone love it.

    Very nice work…80 degrees?, nice weather too! : )

  2. davidpatterson4

    You can still find plenty of sand to fill your shoes, though this little place is on the way out of the valley up past Stovepipe Wells on Route 190 going north. We never did get to go this direction… something to do with a flat tire 🙂

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