Dry Lake Beds resemble a puzzle. A large playa full of unique dried up pieces of mud that form whimsical shapes and size. A favorite place of mine to photograph landscape, earth, portraits and the rising of a full moon. Las Vegas has many dry lake beds to choose from. One of my favorites is out near the turn-off heading south towards Laughlin on the Highway 95. Some refer to it as the El Dorado Dry Lake Bed but according to some official maps it is also known as the Mursha Reservoir.
Do not let this beautiful puzzle nature has provided us to enjoy fool you. As soon as the rain drops hit this dry earth, it can turn into a sticky and muddy mess that is thirsty to swallow your tires. If you happen to be enjoying a beautiful rain on this dry lake bed, be sure to be safe and have a good escape plan for your vehicle or you might be spending more time than you had planned.
Upon finding a nice place to park and start scouting some nice vantage points for my photography it is hard to resist the urge to want to run and leap in this vastness of space. A feeling of freedom can overwhelm the soul and a burst of energy can come out of no where when playing out here. One of my two young models took the plunge!
The clouds on this day could not have been any better so the sky is covered, but now to find some kind of prop for this shoot was the next step. This old rotted and rusted out mattress was pretty interesting. It makes you wonder what the story is behind this old bones of a mattress is. Maybe someone was out here enjoying the stars at night on a comfortable place to lounge. That is, before it deteriorated to only the metal core.
Leaping across the lake bed about another 100 yards we stumbled upon a freshly burnt out car. What in the world? The ash was still blowing in the wind so this must have been a recent burn. Curious to figure out “why”, I quickly realized I found my prop for the day. Perfect for two young boys who love metal and all things mechanical.
I suppose a zombie or two along with dramatic lightning could have taken this setting to the next level but I was very happy with our completed set design we compiled out here in nature. Children are amazing to photograph but they are especially amazing when they are playful so that their personalities come out.
This particular dry lake bed is my favorite for early morning light if I want my subject lit up. In the afternoon it casts a huge shadow over the playa making nice for even light. I have other dry lake beds across the valley that are just the opposite so depending on how I want to compose my images I select a lake that is conducive to the look I am trying to create. I love the extra darkness the clouds brought in today and considering the prop we found, it all tied in together so nicely.
Water is usually void in this environment. This freshly scorched car and normally very dry lake bed is about to become drenched from the very full rain clouds above. Soon not to be a “dry” lake bed anymore but a clay shallow lake. With that being said we had to leave quickly before getting stranded out here. The rains came down heavy and fast as we pulled out of the sticky earth but what a wonderful day and shoot it was.