When Australian landscape photographer Craig McGowan made a trip to the United States this autumn, he'd hoped to visit Death Valley. So, he was disheartened to learn that the National Park had been closed to the public in August following the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary—which had flooded the dessert valley and caused widespread destruction. However, to McGowan's surprise, with just a week left in his trip, the park opened its gates once again.
This allowed McGowan to make the journey to California's Death Valley and photograph it in exceedingly rare conditions, as the effects of the large rainfall were still visible. Not only were there large pools of water in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, but the Badwater Basin was filled with a temporary lake.
The weather conditions took McGowan by surprise, as he assumed that he would be wandering into a hot and dry landscape. But, he knew from experience that you can never be too sure what nature has in store for you. “I was surprised how green and how much vegetation there was in Death Valley,” he tells My Modern Met. “Significantly, of course, the unusual amounts of water sitting in the sand dunes and the flooded Badwater Basin made the visit somewhat unique.”
All told, McGowan took over a thousand photos of the scenic landscape. The images show the unique conditions while also focusing on the remote nature of the location. More than a million people visit the park annually. However, McGowan's fresh take on the scenery allows us to focus on its beauty without distraction. And, thanks to the timing of his visit, his images also serve as important documentation of the aftermath of a storm.