Shot for the Day (17 August 2016)

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I was almost at the hotel after a long drive to Death Valley from Los Angeles,when I spotted this scene.  It was insanely hot, well over 40 degrees Celsius but Death Valley is such a fascinating place, I had to stop and grab a couple of shots before sunset.

The shot above was moments before the sun dropped behind a cloud.  The one below was a little later, as the sky was lit up with the afterglow.

I heartily recommend a trip to Death Valley to anyone.  Just a word of warning.  Make sure you have a car with air conditioning and that you can handle temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius as it hit 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.7 degrees Celsius the following day).

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Shot for the Day (11 August 2016)

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A few years ago, I was in the US to shoot a TV commercial for VW.  I took a couple of days out after 5 days of filming and wondered over to Death Valley.  I was incredibly lucky to be there as the weather turn from bone dry to stormy.  This is a short while before the heavens open and flooded many of the roads in the National Park.

Shot for the Day (08 August 2016)

Salar de Uyuni

At the edge of the world is a place called the Salar de Uyuni, in the altiplano in Bolivia.  It feels alien, set at over 4000m high in the Andes, close to the gods.  With the exception of the cactus, it is bereft of life.  This hostile, baron environment is one of my favourite places on earth.  There is a brutal simplicity to existence here.

Shot for the Day (19 June 2015)

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Just over 35 years ago, on May 31, 1970, an undersea earthquake off the coast of Peru triggered a catastrophic avalanche, that wiped out the entire highland town of Yungay,completely off the map, killing most of its 25,000 inhabitants.

Yungay was a small highland town in the picturesque Callejon de Huaylas, close to Huaraz high in the Peruvian Andes. Founded by Domingo Santo Tomás in 1540, the town was over 400 years old. However, the earthquake off the coast triggered an even greater incident. It destabilised the glacier on the north face of Mount Huascarán, the tallest mountain in the region, causing 10 million cubic meters of rock, ice and snow to detach and collapse down its slope at more than 120 miles per hour.

As the debris descended, it picked up more mass from glacial deposits. By the time it reached the valley, barely three minutes later, the 1km wide wave was estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters of ice, mud and rocks.

The town of Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants were buried under the landslide. Many of the inhabitants had sought refuge in the church ,to pray once the earthquake struck. What remains today, captured in this image, is a reproduction of the church facia, along with the lone surviving palm trees in the Yungay cemetery. This monument has been dedicated to all those souls who lost their lives that fateful day.

In Yungay, only 350 residents survived, a poultry 0.014% of the total population. However, in a fortuitous twist of fate, 300 of these survivors were children had been taken to the circus at the local stadium, set on higher ground on the outskirts of the town.

The government has prohibited excavation of the site, so to this day, it remains as an eerie reminder of how powerful nature truly is.

A day in Death Valley, USA

Recently, after being on a film shoot in California, I had a couple of days spare at the end of my trip and decided to capture some images in Death Valley.  I made the classic tourist error of hiring a convertible car, which in the desert, is a bad idea.  You want, no, you need to have air conditioning.  Being stoic, I chose discomfort and sunburn instead, which turned out well for me.

Anyhow, here are a few shots I took in a day long photography shoot in Death Valley.  It effectively documents the arrival of a fierce thunder-storm, gale force winds and a torrential downpour that flooded the roads in multiple places.

The fluffy white clouds formed the perfect backdrop to this ghost town

Thick, heavy cloud was blowing into Death Valley from Nevada to the east.

The sky seemed to lose colour as the heavy, grey clouds gathered overheat, blocking out the intense sun and dropping the temperature some 20 degrees Celsius.

Rain began to fall and there were two separate rainbows in the desert.  It was magnificent.

For these last two images, the wind was blowing a gale and I had to cling on to my camera gear to fear that it would be snatched away by the wind.

Forks of lightening spread 180 degrees sideways through the sky as I drove back to my hotel after taking the final session of shots on Zabriskie Point.