Never Trust the Devil
The Devils’ Golf Course, Death Valley
This is a place I won’t forget too easily as it was ‘nearly’ the site of one of my photographic disasters. I’d been up since before 4:00 am that day and had driven down from our hotel at Furnace Creek for a dawn shoot at Badwater. Unfortunately the dawn sky colour failed to really materialise and the desired reflections in the sparse salt pools were a bit meek to say the least. Never-the-less I’d continued to shoot until the first of the early morning tourists turned up; then I hit the road. On the way back I saw the sign for the Devils Golf Course and seeing no one was around headed down to take a few pictures. The sun was just breaking over the eastern ridge and it was beginning to get quite bright. The contrast was high, but the side light made the salt mounds look great. I was trying different combinations and strengths of ND grads to hold back the sky and whilst doing so I plonked my wallet containing all my expensive grads down in-between some of the salt mounds. Soon after a few tourists started to appear in dribs and drabs so I packed up my gear and left, driving the 17 miles back to the hotel.
I was just about back to the room when a sudden ominous thought arose; I just couldn’t remember packing my grads. A hasty inspection of my backpack revealed my fears to be true, I’d gone and left ALL my grads out in the desert in the middle of Death Valley! What the hell was I going to do! I was just 10 days into a 5 week trip touring the South West USA and would have absolutely no chance of replacing the grads anywhere on the way. Three and a half weeks of once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities were just be about to go down the pan … the salt pan!
I jumped back into the 4×4 and immediately sped off down the road, all 17 miles back to the Devil’s Golf Course. When I got to there the parking lot already contained several vehicles and a mini-bus and the place was littered with tourist posing for pictures and all armed with point-and-shoots. It was now over an hour since I’d been there, so it was pretty unlikely my grad wallet had not discovered by now. Things were looking grim.
I hastened over to where I thought my last shot was taken; several people were nearby. They must have thought me rather peculiar wandering around, eyes transfixed on the ground. l around, but there in amongst a couple of Asian tourists, almost by their feet, was my grad wallet, exactly where I left it .. phew! I grabbed it and left.