Thursday, May 24, 2018

Desert Skies!

I'm behind. These photos were taken in September of 2017. I'm finally getting to them now because all three of my 32GB memory cards are totally full. I need to remove the files to a backup drive, but before I do, I want to review and edit (and share) those photos I like. 

How did I get so far behind? I never used to have this problem. Typically I'd have a month or two of photos that needed reviewing and/or editing, but not going back 6-8 months!! The good news is that my backlog will easily get me through the hot summer months, when it's too hot to do much hiking.

Anyway... Last week I promised to post some of the sky shots that I captured during my first visit to Stirrup Tank. On this particular day there was light rain and dull gray skies in 29 Palms, but I decided to drive into Joshua Tree National Park anyway with hopes of finding something interesting to photograph. Fingers crossed, I wasn't even sure where I was going, but somehow I ended up at the Stirrup Tank dirt road. I was rewarded with some of the most beautiful skies I've ever seen!



This huge boulder has the appearance of just being casually set here and leaned up against the rock. As if someone might be right back for it! Such an odd angle.



Tortoise head rock??



This is the dead trunk of a joshua tree. See the holes in the trunk? I'm guessing woodpecker or perhaps a small owl, but I didn't see any signs of whatever might live there.






See the climber on top of the rocks?

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Stirrup Tank (First Visit)

I received some great comments on last weeks post that made me laugh... "Some vegetation for a change!" and "Not accustomed to seeing so much green!" and "Some water in your post!" First, this might be a good time to say "thank you". I really appreciate your comments, and it's what makes blogging fun! As many of you know, I spend a lot of my weekends out in the desert near Joshua Tree (although it's not my primary residence). I love hiking and photography in the desert, but I do flip-flop back and forth on occasion between Orange County and Joshua Tree. Hence, the occasional "green" posts from Orange County! Anyway, for this week, let me take you back out to JTree. Specifically, to the Stirrup Tank area. There is a lonely, unmarked dirt road that branches south off Pinto Basin road for 1.5 miles to a small parking area.
I'm calling this a "visit" rather than a hike because it really was just a visit with a little exploring. I had no destination in mind and had no idea what I was going to find. I didn't venture more than about 1/2 mile from the parking area, and I was very focused on getting sky shots. The sky on this particular day (actually, late afternoon) was putting on quite a show!

Ring around the rock!

Window rock

Glove Rock??

 The rock formations in the Stirrup Tank area did not disappoint! Just a short hike from the car, I was able to find all kinds of interesting shapes and textures.

Kind of cool the way these three large boulders are sitting atop this rock formation, like someones set them there! Just around the corner I found this:
Two morteros! Native Americans used these to grind seeds and nuts, and whatever else needed grinding. Cool to find two right next to each other! I wonder if there's a grinding stone around here somewhere??

In the same general area, lots of spots that could have been used as shelter. I'm pretty sure there are other Native American artifacts that I probably walked right by!!

Yet another spot in the same general area that could be used for shelter. It was surrounded on three sides by rocks and was hard to get to (required climbing over some thorny bushes). This spot felt kind of creepy to me. Hard to explain, but it just felt dark and scary and I was anxious to leave and move on to the next area.






A great day to be out hiking in the desert under beautiful skies. I'll share more photos from Stirrup Tank next week. As it got later in the day, the sky went from beautiful to jaw-dropping!!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Walk in the Park










 Ralph B Clark Park, Fullerton, CA. All photos taken on my iPhone 6 and edited in Topaz Studio.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Chasing the Moon

How often do you go looking for a particular shot, only to come away with something completely different? Sometimes better, oftentimes not as good as you were hoping. I guess the point is, as photographers, we have to stay flexible and look for opportunities as they present themselves.

This last Saturday there was a nearly full moon with a scheduled moonrise at about 6:30PM on a compass heading of 97 degrees. In my minds eye I could picture a big, beautiful moon very low on the horizon rising over Highway 62 as it makes its way east in the vast open desert east of 29 Palms. It would be one of those hauntingly beautiful desert shots.

Well, it didn't quite turn out according to plan. Not even close. As I drove east, I couldn't find the perfect spot. So I drove further east. And further east. I finally ended up all the way out in the Scorpius Arch area before I said enough is enough and parked the Jeep. Still no sign of the moon, so what the heck, let's go take a look at the arch in the late afternoon sunlight. I've only hiked to Scorpius Arch once before (here).

About halfway to the Arch, the moon finally showed its face. The winds from the past couple days had made the sky hazy, so the moon was not visible until it was higher on the horizon. So much for my huge-moon-sitting-on-the-highway plans!

One of the Topaz Studio filters


Whoa... wait a second! Look at all those beautiful nooks and crannies in the rocks! Why didn't I notice this area last time I hiked to Scorpius Arch?? This photo is just a placeholder to remind me of a future exploratory hike.

The view north toward the Sheephole Valley Wilderness.

Thar she blows... Scorpius Arch!!
May be my best shot of the night... moonrise as viewed through Scorpius Arch. Not the shot I had originally planned, but I'll take it!!


I climbed around on the rocks to view the arch from a different perspective and was rewarded with this shot of the setting sun through the arch!

Driving home, I spotted the moon rising over these mountains (not sure of the name, or if they even have a name). I couldn't resist stopping for a  quick shot. As I set up my tripod, I had two bats flickering around me. Very strange, and they came in quite close to where I could almost touch them. There was no chance of getting a photo with my telephoto lens because of their quick, jerky moves. So here's a cell phone shot. The black splotch is one of my little bat friends!

The photo above is actually close to the shot I originally set out to capture. I needed some Photoshop help on this one because I'm traveling west and the moon is actually behind me! Anyway, this is a composite of two photos from the evening, and what the moonrise over Highway 62 would have looked like had it been visible. Best laid plans!!


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