Thursday, June 6, 2013

Geology Tour Road by Moonlight

I've blogged about Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree National Park at least once before, but it was quite a while ago. Anyway, about two weeks ago I had been working hard on my "project" all day and needed a break. I decided to take the Jeep out for a spin in the Park after dinner... no particular destination in mind, but hoping to catch some good sunset shots. The sun was still a little high for as I wound my way through the Park, and on a whim decided to take the turnoff for Geology Tour Road. It's 18 miles of dirt road, and too late in the day to get it all done before dark, but I know the road well, it was a beautiful night, I had plenty of food and water with me, and figured I could turn back at any time. I also knew it was going to be a full moon. The only danger: no cell reception in the Park, so if I got stuck or had mechanical problems, I'll be spending the night in my Jeep!
I didn't see a single car on the trail as I zipped along non-stop, and was almost to the half-way point by about 7:15. By now the sun was low on the horizon, casting long shadows, and I knew sunset wasn't too far off.
I knew where I wanted to be come sunset, and it was still about 15 minutes away, so off I sped.
I decided to set up my camera gear by this weirdly-shaped Joshua tree, and was pretty happy with this sunset shot. At this location, I had huge desert vistas, I didn't see another human being for hundreds of miles around me in any direction, and there was absolute stillness as the sun set. After taking this shot, I remember thinking "I wonder where the moon is?" Turning around 180 degrees, I was greeted with this beautiful moon-rise. And just as the moon cleared the distant mountain, a bunch of coyotes started to yip... very cool! Almost like they were waiting for it too!
The rest of the evening was spent driving around and hiking around taking shots of Joshua Tree by moonlight. I really enjoyed it, and planning on spending many more summer nights in the Park!

One of my favorites from the night... "chasing the moon" shot.

I used Photoshop to reduce the exposure on the moon (keep it sharp) an increase the exposure on the foreground
 for better overall exposure balance.
If you're curious about this drive, I found a nice 6-minute You Tube video that highlights some of it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6jU4sJAuZM  The first part of the road is smooth and easy, but 4WD is recommended for the second half. You could probably get by with a high ground clearance vehicle.

We're heading back out to the desert this weekend to work on our project. Hope to share some photos with you. Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click the link to check our great skies from around the world! Have a great weekend!!

38 comments:

  1. Wow - those moon shots are fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You a wonderful spot for your photos! The sunset is beautiful and the moon rise is awesome. Fabulous shots!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great Ansel Adams looking shots . What should he have done when he had the possibilities of our time. Still great pictures. Like them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. fabulous colours in your moon lit desert skies

    ReplyDelete
  5. wonderful photos!!!! love the last two ones especially!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great shots, I'm amazed how you were able to keep the moon visible and show the headlights also. I have lots and lots to learn in the photography thing. Also, what a great adventure hiking in the desert at night and with no cell phone reception. Unheard of these days.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We haven't done that drive. We have an X-Terra, which is high clearance, but not 4 wheel drive. Beautiful shots of the moon!
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~

    ReplyDelete
  8. Phenomenal photos! It's no easy feat to get that sun so crisp with surrounding darkness. Very nice and enjoyable series.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your shots with the full moon over Joshua Tree Nat. Park are utterly breath-taking, almost surreal. All I can say is WOW! Fantastic photos.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am envious. I too like the headlights on the road moon photo. The last two also. They are all good. I wonder how that one would look if the Jeep was cropped out but the headlight shine on the road and brush remained. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Every single shot is gorgeous. I love it that the Coyotes were waiting to break into song for you. MB

    ReplyDelete
  12. WOW!!! These shots are so wonderful! What a gorgeous sunset! The moonrise is splendid too. It's so important to look behind you at sunset, I believe. You never know what you might see!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. So do love the chasing the moon shots. Super job!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Astonishing photos - there is such beauty in the desert. We used to live in Brawly, and visited Joshua tree often. Thanks for the fabulous tour.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Magnifiche foto e luoghi... amo la California :)
    Myriam

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow! These are just amazing ... especially that last one. Nat Geo material here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful!!!!! In one shot...I think number 6, the moon is smiling. Thanks for the beautiful desert tour!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I would have enjoyed this ride. Thanks for taking me along through your photos.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What beautiful night photos - well worth a moonlight drive.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What magical photos of what had to be a magical experience! I love this post!

    You're "pretty happy" with that sunset shot?! You are one tough customer! LOL That shot is gorgeous, and that Joshua tree makes it really special. And then they just get more amazing from there. "Chasing the moon" was my favorite, until I got to the last two! WOW!!!! I wish I could step into those photos and feel that incredible desert air, experience that solitude, and hear those coyotes for myself!

    Superb post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. oh wow, these are incredible photos! love your composition by the tree and rock. couldn't take my eyes off from these images--so beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  22. It's take quite some nerve to drive in the middle of nowhere ! enjoyed the youtube trip ! Amazing heapds of rockes (like the music that go along with the video) ! Night shots of the moon and the geology is quite amazing, thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  23. Gorgeous moon shots! What a beautiful park. Thanks for your visit :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Joshua Tree NP!! I loved that place, sad I had only half-a-day to spend :( Your post is so fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  25. As unreal as they are surreal. These pictures are stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow, great shots! Makes me want to go there!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Stunning shots and great views!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thats a great set of shots - I'm off to central Australia in the next holidays - hope to get some shots like these.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  29. Fantastic Pics,especially the moon shots!

    ReplyDelete
  30. These shots are so cool! Kudos!! Do you use a neutral density filter to extend the exposure time? With one, you could use a smaller aperture [e.g., f/11-16 to increase depth of field and sharpness of your image in camera]. What a surprise for me -- never heard of Joshua Tree NP until seeing your blog. How fortunate for you to have ready access to it! Have a great weekend --

    ReplyDelete
  31. OMG!! Nothing but stunning!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow!!! The sunset is great, with that weirdly shaped tree, but the moon images are simply awesome!!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Your desert pics are top notch as always. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Gorgeous shots! Joshua trees are so photogenic, and the two rock-and-moon shots at the end are just wonderful...

    ReplyDelete