Gravel Ghost

Latin name:  Atrichoseris platyphylla  Family:  Asteraceae  Color:  Purple-tinged white, sometimes with small spots.  Looks like a daisy.

A Gravel Ghost is a wildflower that grows in the Mojave Desert and Death Valley National Park, and sometimes in Arizona and Utah.

Gravel Ghosts like living in gravelly washes and ravines where their delicate, white blossoms hover above the ground in a ghostly haze.  They have a fragrance that’s a mixture of vanilla and jasmine and will bloom in spring if there has been enough rain during the fall and winter in the desert.

This blog is called The Gravel Ghost.  It’s a photo blog, but sometimes there are stories that go along with the photos.  It’s called The Gravel Ghost because I love the desert and in particular, Death Valley, California.  It’s been my muse since the age of six, but the desert is not all that I photograph.  My goal is to have viewers experience what I feel when I take a photograph of people, places and things.  I mainly love black and white for photography because it’s simple, straight-forward and not distracting.  It gets my point across.  But there are times when color is called for. Just because.

I don’t talk shop on my blog because it’s about the image, not how I got there.  So I don’t post my camera settings, discuss what equipment I use or analyze post-processing.  To me that is a distraction from the image, and the image is sacred.

All photographs and text on this website are © Copyright Merilee Mitchell 2011-2020. All works on this website are the exclusive property of Merilee Mitchell and are protected under International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, stored or manipulated in any way without the written permission of Merilee Mitchell. Use of any image in any way is a violation of Copyright Law and will be enforced to its full extent. No images are within Public Domain.

If you have any questions about this website, I can be contacted at merilee.mitchell123@gmail.com

The Gravel Ghost. Copyright Merilee Mitchell

139 thoughts

    • Thank you so much! You just made my day. It’s an addiction, really. For me, it’s all about the energy of the moment. Not in following rules of photography or about technical skill. It’s about a feeling, an emotion conveyed in one snap of the shutter that encompasses timelessness and makes one think. If you have been moved by my photos, then I’ve done my job. I sincerely appreciate your kind words.

  1. I have never understood why if someone is below sea level, the water does not rush in and fill up the hole. But in your case I’m glad it did not, as I would miss how nicely you have crafted this blog, not to mention the really good photo of you.

  2. Love to see your images. Was wondering whether you photograph in black & white or color (then convert to black and white in processing)?

  3. Hello. Really thought provoking blogg, still working my way through your eclectic collection. I like the photo on your about page, the signpost would make a great title for a novel. Keep posting.

  4. I, too love the desert. When I was 7 (a long, long time ago) my family moved to Trona…,…near Ridgecrest. It was supposed to help my asthma. I learned to love the solitude and the beauty of the desert.
    Thanks for sharing/

  5. Brilliant Blog! Everything about it is just … perfect! When you write this: “I don’t talk shop on my blog. Why? Because it’s about the image, not how I got there. So I don’t post my camera settings, discuss what lenses I use or my cameras. To me that is a distraction from the image… ” I simply couldn’t agree more. I post a lot of personal photography on my blog… though I have recently begun to incorporate quotations and have posted essays in the past as well. There are certainly themes I wish to explore, ways of seeing, but I try to keep things somewhat separate, disjointed even, so as to let the viewer decide, feel, interpret, and so on… Especially with my photography. How I took the image is not important to what I am trying to do. And I feel that you nailed exactly what I have been thinking in that one statement. Thank you! You’re photographs are so beautiful and inspiring! xox fia

    • Thank you so much. The world of photography is a puzzling one to me and as I see it, it’s broken down into “zones”. I am more in the “artist zone” rather than the “tech zone”. There is nothing wrong with either, however, I want to be entranced by an image and I don’t want to read about what the fstop was. I don’t care… And that sort of thing is distracting to me. But that’s me.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. It is my life… :-))))

      • I couldn’t agree more! And you’re work is so incredibly beautiful, one would hate to take away from the image even in the least… Writing you this morning I realized that I was, without thinking about it, talking about my main blog (Artist as Mother) where I post my own photography (and other things…). Not Now York City, where you commented. So sorry for any confusion! Now York City is sort of an archival, crowd-sourced endeavor. I don’t post any of my own photographs there (as I’m sure you’ve noticed), though I do live in the city. However, with both blogs, I maintain the same sensibility as you, and for the same reasons. So I suppose I wasn’t being too confusing… I hope not! Once again – your photography is simply brilliant and that this is “your life” most certainly shines through! I am so happy to have found you! Wishing you nothing but the very best xox fia

      • Thank you for clearing that up! I was wondering which photos on Now York City were yours…lol. Love both of your blogs and thank you so much for your kind words. There are days when I feel I need to retire the blog and stop this. But I can’t…. so knowing that it gives at least one person pleasure has made it all worth while.

  6. I realized that after the fact…! And Thank You, again. I really understand the feeling of just wanting to toss it all in, and also being unable to. But Please don’t! You have incredible talent and it would be a waste not to share this. Perhaps thinking of it this way will help? xox

    • It does. When I look at my untended garden and unwalked dog and feel guilty about the vast number of hours I spend with my camera, traveling and sitting at the computer, writing, thinking and then wondering if I’m completely out of my mind, when I read just one comment like yours, it makes it all worth while. Thank you.

      • It’s true passion, I think, and that’s what drives the Creative. There’s simply no getting around it, so what’s the point in trying… ? You’re not out of your mind, as far as I can tell, you’re just a true Artist…

  7. You shoot in a part of the US that my wife and I have yet to see. We’ll get there eventually. Until then, I’ll be keeping an aye on The Gravel Ghost.

    Thanks for taking notice of Modes of Flight, and the Hammer Home Street Photography Project.

  8. Nice blog. I like your philosophy. I think photo talk clogs the thinking about the beauty of the photo as well. I do enjoy doing it once in a while to document what I’m learning, and I certainly appreciate feedback from GOOD photographers like you. I have learned so much from my blogging friends. I’ll be following you and enjoying you work. 🙂

  9. Wonderful images Merilee.

    Though I do occasionally “talk shop” on my blog, most often when asked, though some times in a how-to post, I could not agree more with your thoughts on the subject. To paraphrase a recent comment I made on my fan page, “The gear doesn’t matter, the process doesn’t matter, only the image matters.”

  10. Hi Merilee, I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime, your photos are very creative, they always catch my eye. It’s been a pleasure looking at your inspiring blog and I look forward to many more. All the best Mark.

  11. I wanted to compliment you on your work here but someone has beat me to what I wanted to say. Your black and white is “simple, straight forward and not distracting”. That is a quote from you about why you shoot in black and white. And that is what I see. Nothing is overdone. I heard a phrase once. “An understated elegance.” That is what you have. Beautiful.

  12. Because it’s about the image, not how I got there. So I don’t post my camera settings, discuss what lenses I use or my cameras. To me that is a distraction from the image, and the image is sacred. — So true!! thanks for stopping by my blog! I’ll have a look at yours, seems interesting 🙂

  13. So very pleased to have stumbled across your site. Gravel Ghost ~ how I love that name and of course how very fitting are the layered meanings. Must say that your self-portraits are as mesmerizing as your other images. Truly beautiful work.

      • I have not been to the desert since Memorial Weekend, so I have not encountered the weather. I have missed the wonderful skies filled with thunderstorms. But I will be venturing out again very soon, and I hope some of that monsoonal weather will still be lingering. The only thing that keeps me away is exteme heat, which I have a hard time with. I usually try to make it out there monthly between Sept. – May.

      • Very interesting seasonal visitation schedule. I grew up on a farm on a gravel road in Minnesota. While we received abundant rains and the land was fertile and the landscape rich green, a big swath of my memories are of dusty, gravel roads in mid-summer. And of the wild rose bushes and violets that would grow in the small washouts along side the the them. So again, love that name, Gravel Ghost.

      • Remarkable. That almost seems wrong, somehow. Don’t blow your image! Lovely river valley and river town, though. I was on the prairie about an hour or two west of there, near New Ulm.

      • I like the small towns with their churches, silos and store fronts. Rolling fields filled with corn. Quiet dirt roads, fences and deteriorating barns. It’s a way of life completely unlike mine in Los Angeles.

      • I deeply share your appreciation for that. Years ago I was writing a collection of short stories entitled “Farmscapes” , never finished, and lost along the way. Still have some favorite scenes from those stories that waft through my head every now and then. In grad school I wrote a paper entitled “The Aesthetics of Agricultural Ruins”.

  14. Ms. Mitchell, “Skulls and Glass” was the first of your work I think I saw through your interview with Featured Magazine. Though I have changed the title (Poetic License) I wanted to send this poem to you that was inspired by your photo. Best >KB The comments were closed on the piece so I thought I would drop it here. k

    Of Bones and Bottles

    When light becomes opaque it can be carried home,
    Lifted gently from where it falls and assured with quiet
    Talk about hope and the hope for hope from which springs
    The possibility for it to be put in safe places and watched.
    Life’s importance’s become small and easy to touch
    In the way one’s hand passes over the eyes of a dying love,
    Not making contact but imagining them closing in sleep
    And behind their lids still be able to recognize my face.

    I sit in vague shadow, listen to it talk in a calm desperation
    For it to be heard and understood for itself, a life its own,
    Because it is so a part of all illumination it feels it loses
    Any sense of identity it knows it has but cannot make clear.
    What is said I am unsure of is meant for me to be the one
    To hear as if I am to act in some way, do something noble
    To help it be what it wants, give up a singularity to carry
    Only light and lay it next to the shade and welcome both.

    So I do what I can in this regard, attempting to regard
    Both as being opaque in each their own way and find
    I can take on the weight of the separate parts of seeing
    And knowing the world surrounding me as all of one thing.
    What I do is done with intent and purpose and dexterity
    My hands holding up as much as strength and prayer
    Will allow, offering myself as the mediator and conspirator
    With a delicacy the way I would put bones and bottles
    On a shelf or table together to tell one from the other easily.

  15. Hello Merilee! I was unable to find an email address for you so am leaving you a message here. I recently featured a post in my blog on Caryn Gilbert and she made me aware of your work. I would like to touch base with you on doing the same for your work. Please, if interested, contact me at moorezart@hotmail.com Thanks! Douglas

  16. Pingback: Photography 101: Shooting in Black and White | The Daily Post

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