Thursday, December 7, 2017

Supermoon 2017

Sunday's "supermoon" was the first (and last) of 2017. Really?? I didn't believe it either, but check out https://www.space.com/34515-supermoon-guide.html for the details. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to get out to the desert for the event. My ideal shot would have been a huge supermoon in the desert with a twisted and gnarly old joshua tree silhouette in front of it. May be something like this:
This is a composite image, using a photo of the supermoon with an earlier image from Joshua Tree National Park. OK, let's move on to "real" photos. Here's what I did manage to capture.

While the moon was low on the horizon, I could only get filtered views through the trees.

 Finally I was able to capture an unobstructed view. The moon had more color while it was low on the horizon. As it went higher in the sky, it lost that yellowish tint.

It also started to be filtered out a bit by the clouds.

I was here to take moon shots, but it was hard to ignore the pretty post-sunset sky to the west. It was a real beauty! 

As I was walking around our local park capturing moon shots, I noticed this lone fisherman under the supermoon. He didn't catch anything, and soon moved on.

As evening sets in and the sky darkens, the background starts to disappear. The moon is so bright that everything else fades to black.

Fast forward to Monday AM, 12/4/2017. The moon was setting at about 7:30 AM. Captured these from the sidewalk in front of my house.
Moonset over Ginkgo tree.

Goodbye supermoon. At least for this year!

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ivanpah Tank

This is a great little hike in Joshua Tree National Park. Less than 1/2 mile from the east end of the Live Oak parking area, it's perfect for people who like short hikes. On this day, I had my 5 year old granddaughter with me, and she did great! We went well beyond the Ivanpah Tank into some steep, rugged areas as we followed the wash to the east in search of a second "tank" or dam, and I didn't hear any squawking or complaining!

 Early in the hike, you go by "Submarine Rock". You can see my granddaughter checking it out, which gives a nice perspective to it's size.

This is a nice view of Ivanpah Tank. I don't know anything about the dam (year built, who built it, etc.) but it's one of the larger ones in the Park. I'm sure it was built to catch water for livestock back in the day. I can imagine, years ago, much less sand being behind this dam, and the dam having the ability to catch a significant amount of water after a desert thunderstorm. It doesn't look like it would collect much water now with all that sand. I plan to come back next winter after some significant rainfall to check it out.

Here's the back (upstream) side of the dam that might transform into a lake after a series of heavy rains. I like how the late afternoon light was turning everything golden. Getting around the dam to the downstream side turned out to be a little tricky, and required climbing down a steep rocky slope. My granddaughter held my hand, and I told her to "hang on tight to Grandpa in case he slips!" Fortunately, Grandpa didn't slip and we made it down to the lower wash without mishap.

Here's a view of Ivanpah Tank from the front (downstream) side. I have a theory, which is that the original dam was built of stone, as seen in the photo. Over the years, as sand and silt built up behind the dam, they extended it higher (probably easier than removing the sand). That would explain the weird dual construction, with the bottom half being stone and the top half being formed concrete.



It's a beautiful wash as we followed it down from the dam. Rumor has it that there is another tank or dam further down the wash, and I'm hoping my granddaughter can hang with me long enough to find it. The photo above shows the wash from a vantage point I've scrambled up to. Hmmm, wait a second, where's my granddaughter? I better scramble back down and find her!!

Ah, there she is! I can just make out her little pink hat. Do you see her?

Here, this should help. I cropped the image so you can see her more easily.

Time for a little rest and a light snack.

I'm calling the rock face above "Bison Rock". See the dark pigmentation on the rock? In the late afternoon sun it really stood out and reminded me of a bison, with it's head (on the left side) in a downward position. Or maybe it's just the wide open desert spaces playing tricks on me again?

 Split rock? Or perhaps Eel Head rock?


Periscope rock? Hey, just winging it here. Looking for suggestions!

Here she comes!

I give her high marks for making it down this rocky wash!

Ta daa!! We found the "lower" Ivanpah tank. Not marked on any maps, just another one of those JTNP mysteries. Coming down the wash, it's more or less invisible because the sand has totally filled in to the top of the dam. It's not until you step over and look back that you can see there was a dam here!

On the hike back, I noticed this strange obelisk sticking up in the middle of the wash. The sun was lighting it up, so impossible to miss. I'm calling it "Tombstone Rock", although I think others have named it "Fish Rock". Either way, very cool.

Finally, back to the Jeep and ready for the ride home. But first, we need to bundle up! The Jeep is open air and the desert is starting to get chilly.
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Friday, November 24, 2017

Corner of Sunrise & Sunset!

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, hope you had a great one!!
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Fishing!

We had some very pretty skies during a recent visit to our local park. As you may have guessed, we're home (not visiting the desert) for these shots. I happened to notice the skies before heading over to the park so I grabbed my DSLR with wide angle lens on the way out the door, and glad I did!

Here's my granddaughter riding her bike over the "no fishing" bridge, with my wife in the background. This man made cement "lake" is only a couple feet deep. The park stocks it with fish (catch and release only), and they don't want people fishing off the bridge.

A perfect spot to sit and watch the moon rise!


 Reflected sunset.

 My personal favorite from the evening.

I took this pretty shot of the moon nestled in the clouds after we got home from the park and I could grab my telephoto lens. Hope your week was a good one!

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Desert Storm

Well, not the Desert Storm. I was looking through my photo files and thinking about what to post this week when I came across some shots I took a little over a month ago. They are some of my all-time favorite sky shots, and they darn near slipped through the cracks because I thought I already posted them! Anyway, we were out in the desert during one of those very rare rainstorms. The sky around our house was a dull gray and totally uninspiring. I decided to drive into Joshua Tree National Park, thinking the skies would likely be the same dull gray, and with the rain, I probably wouldn't even get out of the car. Boy, was I wrong!

As I headed into the Park through the 29 Palms entrance, the sky did look dull and gray to the west. To the south, things looked more interesting, and I could see some patches of blue. So I headed south on Pinto Basin Rd., exited at Stirrup Tank Rd., parked, and could hardly believe my luck!
Big, swooping clouds; beautiful late afternoon light; pink mist where rain was falling on the horizon; and even some patches of blue. It doesn't get much better than this!



Does it make for superior sky shots if you hike to the top of a big rock formation and get closer to the clouds?? I'm not sure, but we could go ask that guy. Do you see him? I was hearing thunder booms and remember thinking that standing on top of that rock formation might not be such a great idea!

 Easier to see him in this photo and the next.


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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween Moon!

A perfect night for trick-or-treating! Mild temperatures, a nearly full-moon, and lots of ghosts and goblins out searching for candy. I had fun taking my 5 year old granddaughter (and for a while, my daughter and grandson in a stroller) around the neighborhood. My granddaughter is at such a fun age... really excited, but at the same time, just a little scared to walk up to some of the houses with scary decorations.
My granddaughter (left), daughter, and grandson (stroller) off to find our first house for a trick-or-treat visit.

Very first house of the evening. My granddaughter looks a little concerned... "what am I supposed to say again, Grandpa??" Oh yes, trick-or-treat!!

A pretty Halloween moon was visible most of the night. I shot all these photos with a fisheye lens. No tripod, no flash. Set the ISO high (3200) and clicked away! DSLR cameras are so amazing!!

 Hmmm... do I dare go up those stairs???

Yikes!! If I can just get by this zombie while I hold tight to grandpa's hand!!!

Halloween moon!

Joshua Tree moon.

Are you a fan of old 1950's sci fi? My granddaughter likes to watch this one with me, especially when we are out at the desert. The movie is called Them!, and it's about radioactive fallout from testing atomic bombs in the desert causing some kind of genetic mutation resulting in giant ants. The movie kicks off with a little girl (close in age to my granddaughter) found wandering among the joshua trees in a state of shock after her family is attacked by giant ants. It looks like it was filmed locally, perhaps in the Joshua Tree area. We watched it earlier this week to get in the mood for Halloween, and I couldn't resist taking this photo of the TV screen using my iPhone. Fun stuff! If you celebrate Halloween, I hope you had a good one!!

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