Sunset of a Lifetime


I just turned 46 years old in January. I have always had an appreciation of nature, and over the past ten years or so since I became semi-serious about landscape photography I have seen more sunrises and sunsets than the average person. So when I say that the sunset we witnessed tonight was the best I have ever seen, I hope you can fully understand how spectacular our evening on the dunes near Stovepipe Wells was.

It started out pretty grey and blah, the dunes were wet from the rains last week, and there were footprints all over the place – all making me less than enthusiastic about our chances for some good shooting. Despite this, we were more than happy to enjoy the exercise as we hiked up and down all of the major dunes, all the while searching for a pleasing composition. Even in these conditions, the dunes here are truly amazing, stretching for what seems like miles and miles within the valley.

We had pretty much given up on getting any real “keepers” when we noticed some nice light way off in the distance. We hoped that maybe the sun would get under the layer of clouds and provide us with a last minute show, and boy did it ever. I have never seen a sunset like this in my life. Both Sam and I marveled at the show that was going on in the sky, and I was especially pleased that he was here to share it with me. Perched high on top of the highest dune, we didn’t really have time to go look for an interesting foreground to include in a composition. We mostly just sat in awe, admiring what was going on around us, but here is a taste of what we saw…

8 thoughts on “Sunset of a Lifetime

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Lori… those mountains are part of the Panamint Range. I think we are looking at Tin Mountain (8953 ft) way off in the distance. It is really cool this time of year because the higher mountains have snow on top making for a neat view.

  1. Ben Horne

    That is indeed a phenomenal sunset! About a week prior to the day you shot this, I took in a wonderful sunrise from the very location. I was not able to shoot it, but I just sat there atop a dune, and took in the beauty of the location. I had a few shots scouted out in the Mesquite dunes, but I didn’t think they would be dry enough to shoot. Looks like you’re having a great time so far!

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Ben. We wandered ALL over the dunes, climbing every one of the larger ones. I definitely got a workout, but it was well worth it. While the wetness in the dunes was interesting in places, especially in some of the lower areas where the normally dry caked patterns show, I thought that it ruined many potential compositions. We pretty much decided to forget about photographing seriously, and just enjoy the hiking and scenery. From our vantage point high above, we could see maybe half a dozen other people scattered between where we were and the new parking lot, though most of them disappeared as the light began to fade. We were just sitting on top of the dunes watching some nice light on the horizon at the far end of the valley when things got interesting. It evolved into a phenomenal sight, and is something that we will remember forever.

  2. Ben Horne

    Sounds like a great experience! If you guys are going to be heading back to the dunes, check out the area about a mile to the east of the parking area where the dunes are very small. I had a shot planned over there in the late afternoon because you can get a very nice layered effect with small dunes, mid sized dunes, and large dunes far off in the background.

  3. David Patterson

    Thanks for the tip! That is exactly what we did on our second visit to the dunes. We drove past the parking lot and trekked in to the smaller, more intimate landscape of dunes to the east. Sam headed off on his own and I wandered around looking for something nice… will post what i found later.

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