Until Tomorrow

Last light in Death Valley a few weeks ago at Zabriskie Point. I had no clouds this evening so I decided to try to shoot into the setting sun but keeping the sun out of the frame. This is Manley Beacon backlit by the setting sun. This was my first evening in the park and I didn’t have much time to set up as I had driven from Central Utah. Everything I shot this evening was with a long lens zoomed way in to try and capture more intimate details of the desert landscape. Death Valley comes alive just before and just after the sun sets giving off a riot of colors that are not seen during most of the day.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any and all feedback is certainly welcome.

Technical Details

Z7ii, ISO 80, 70-200mm @140mm, f/11 @ 1/40 second.


The top right side of Manley Beacon seems to have lower contrast than the rest of it, due to the blooming of the light. I wonder if you could mask off the background and bring the contrast up on the beacon in that region.

I welcome this very different look at Manley Beacon, and Zabrieskie Point in general. The emphasis is on light and atmosphere rather than color and shadows we almost always see. I actually like how MB goes from bright to darker shadows as we get further from the sunlight. I think it looks very natural. More importantly, it’s a welcome sight to all lovers of the desert who wait until until nightfall to witness this. Even though it’s mostly in shadows there are some beautiful very subdued colors at the base. They are best seen in the larger version. I thought this image could use more color but when I tried to saturate it selectively I realized that it took something away from the presentation.

David, you have such a nice touch with colour and tone - so subdued and painterly. While it mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, I love it. The light does wonders here to accentuate the “musculature” of the rock, making me feel its softness rather than its hardness. I also love the way you’ve handled the background mid to upper left, again, very painterly almost Leonardo-esque. I’ve mentioned the Canadian painter, Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris and I think you would find his work very sympathetic to your own. Here’s a sampling; https://www.artandantiquesmag.com/lawren-harris-paintings/

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What a beautiful moment. You spot the moment right on.
This is wonderful.

David, this is a terrific scene, rendered quite nicely with your processing. I like the subtle tones, lower contrast, and muted colors. I agree that the sunlight looks natural and blends nicely towards the left. Nice work using the long lens to get intimate nature shots. Well done.


I gotta say this. This has to be the most unique image I’ve seen captured from this iconic location. We all know, this is up there with Tunnel View, the bridge over the Virgin river, Snake river overlook… you know those shot-to-death locations that even a seasoned photographer can’t resist. And of all the images I’ve ever seen from here, this is freshest, most unique and best interpretation I’ve seen! I’ve only been there once myself and don’t remember if I even grabbed a shot because of all the 'togs lined up on the ridge waiting for “sunrise…” - not sunset.

Anyway, huge kudos for this one. for the image itself, just gorgeous. that bg light and keeping the sun and flares out of the frame is just exceptional. And the pastels in that light, especially given the harsh source, is amazing. And as Igor and others have pointed out the luminosity, color, gradation of the beacon itself are just as impressive and beautifully handled.

Just wow.



@Youssef_Ismail, @Igor_Doncov, @Kerry_Gordon, @joaoquintela, @David_Bostock, @Lon_Overacker
Thanks very much for you comments and suggestions.
Youssef, the top of the peak is certainly less colorful and contrasted than the lower section of the peak and I will try and bring out a little bit more pop to this. I appreciate the suggestion.

I tried very much to create something of my own on this trip so when I went to Zabriskie Point I did not go to the look out point. Yes, there were already photogs lined up all along the entire point when I got there. Instead, I hiked the far right ridge from the parking lot, and although there are a couple of dodgy sections that are not for everyone, I hiked out almost to the end of the point where Manley beacon sits. This provides entirely different views of the area and just before and just after dark the colors really pop like crazy (at least they do when you don’t have your camera pointed directly into the sun as I do on this shot). I think this shot gave me what I wanted as I have never seen a shot like this from Zabriskie so at least the uniqueness of the shot was accomplished. :slight_smile: Thanks again guys.

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Trying to catch up here – again – and just have to say my first impression was, wow, he’s found a Manly Beacon look-alike… no…, wait…

Very unique and interesting!! Kudos for capturing the magic light!

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The first thought that came to my mind when I saw your image is “Caspar David Friedrich”. There’s something incredibly poetic in this image in the manner of this 19th century master of the Romantic era. The presence of this rocky outcropping is imposing, intimate and superb. In such an instance, the lower contrast quality of this image provides a softness that I find very pleasing… everything soft and gentle, time slowing down, peace and beauty descending upon us… Just wonderful!

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@Diane_Miller, @LauraEmerson
Thank you both for your comments. Diane, I too have been in and out of town so much lately that I feel like I am falling behind here at NPN. So, I feel ya! :slight_smile: And I feel bad when I miss posts from the members. I feel like I’m neglecting them.
Anyway, thanks very much for your reply. I’m glad you liked it. I really was trying to do something different that I had never seen before on this trip because it’s so hard to go to a place like Death Valley and not get caught up in wanting to take the usual images. Thanks again for your thoughts. I always appreciate them.
Laura, it’s great to have you here commenting. I’m so looking forward to more of your work.

Thanks very much for your comments. I intentionally left this canvas pretty much as shot with just a little bit of tweaking and virtually no contrast added so that it would come across as real. And less contrast gives that romantic vibe that you mention as well. I’m glad you like it. Thanks again, Laura.