Shooting the mud cracks in Death Valley National Park are an adventure every landscape photographer wants to go on. The mud cracks offer so many composition choices, shooting them is the easy part. Finding good mud cracks to shoot is the harder part.
Of course, there are great mud cracks to be found at places like the Racetrack, but good luck getting there without the right vehicle and some help. Luckily, there are good mud cracks that are just off the road and easy to find.
To find these mud cracks, enter Death Valley from the east on Highway 190 or travel south down Highway 190 from the north part of Death Valley National Park. At the Furnace Creek junction, head south on Badwater Rd. for just a shot distance and you will find mud cracks on both sides of the road. If you reach Desolation Canyon, you have gone too far.
I found this little tree sticking out of the cracks on the east side of the road with the beautiful mountains in the back drop. I should have done a better job getting the mud cracks with the tree, but this was my first time shooting mud cracks and I was worried about losing that magical golden light on the mountains.
The west side of the road has much better mud cracks. They are bigger and more defined, which are good for sticking out in the foreground of your composition.
On the west side of the road, there are some cool compositions you can work on as there are different features breaking up the mud cracks. I liked the line of mud cracks going through the gravel and dirt in the above image, and the cracks inside this little canyon in the shot below.
Finding interesting shapes in the mud cracks is key to getting a good foreground. I liked the circular hook shape at the bottom of the image below.
The other cool thing I enjoyed shooting on the west side of the road were these cool green rocks. I was shooting with the guys from Photog Adventures this night and I saw one of them on the ground with a 150-600 lens and asked what the heck he was shooting. He showed me these cool green rocks and I was game.