Considered the lowest point in North America, this spot is nearly 300 feet below sea level. There isn’t any other place you could stand and be further from the Moon all while wondering if you are in fact standing on its surface.
Badwater Basin, the location of the image, sits within Death Valley National Park, California. These salt flats cover nearly 200 square miles and are considered to be the largest protected salt flats in the world. Salt flats are too harsh for most plants and animals to survive. Delicate crystals are effortlessly crushed, and the relatively thin upper crust of salt can break through to the mud layer below.
The combination of unbearable heat and salt will suck every little bit of moisture out of anything that lives here. Making this place incredibly interesting though, is that it’s among the only places in the world where, standing so far below sea level in the scorching heat in the middle of the summer, yet you see SNOW on the top of the surrounding mountains! It felt surreal to feel and see a contrast so big in such a small area.
The vast salt flats evolve constantly. Floods create temporary lakes that dissolve salts back into liquid. These newly formed crystals ooze amongst the mud and create unique patterns on the surface of the salt flat. Transient rainstorms rinse off salt dust and generate a fresh layer of blinding white salt. Once everything is dry again, the salt crystals expand, pushing the top of the salt into unique forms until the next flood comes to start the process all over again.
I scoured the area looking for the perfect composition, which is not as easy as one might think as there are so many different variations of salt formations that exist in this area. Hoping to find areas pristine, untouched, and with definitive lines, I kept looking beyond the numerous areas left dirty and flat from too much foot traffic. Looking to provide incredible detail in the foreground and drawing the eye towards the distance in the background, I managed to find a perfectly untouched landscape to photograph.