Thursday, June 28, 2012

Can You Feel the Heat?

To me, this photo says "hot"! Maybe because I was there... I took the photo, and it was 103 degrees.  A little too warm to be wandering around the desert taking photos. I set my camera on a rock on the ground for this shot. Those are the Sheep Hole Mountains in the background. I like the sun flare and the blue sky. Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!!
A few more pics I want to share from out desert trip two weekends ago...
Self portrait... shadow on Highway 62, iPhone photo.
Balancing rock in b&w

Great rock formations in this area. I added a texture to give it some additional grit.
Other-worldly rock formations
Heading home (west) through Wonder Valley, couldn't resist a quick shot of a desert homestead. Have a wonderful weekend, and take lots of photos!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

No Country for Old Men

Movie description:  Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter notices abandoned vehicles in a remote desert location and stumbles upon dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash...

We're thirty-five miles east of 29 Palms... going north parallel to the Sheep Hole Mountains... another 30 minutes on a Jeep trail... 103 degrees. We find a trail and wonder where it leads, so we follow it. At the end of the trail is a rusted-out, shot-up 2WD sedan that should have never been driven out here in the first place!
I'm busy taking pictures of this old heap from various angles. It's been used and abused extensively for target practice, with some large caliber holes in the body along with shotgun spray.
The term "shot to hell" comes to mind...
I hear my wife calling me, a slight urgency in her voice. She points out a late-model SUV down in the adjacent wash that I hadn't noticed. That's strange...
My first thought... perhaps a family out exploring or rock hunting? I call out loudly "Is anyone there"? No answer. My wife says "this is creepy" and "I think we should go". As we look more closely, I see no sign of tire tracks leading to the vehicle. It's been parked there for weeks, maybe even months. But it's much too nice of a car to be abandoned. I tell my wife I want to go take a look. She says "What movie does this remind you of" and I think instantly of No Country for Old Men, which we had watched recently. My wife complains that I make her watch too many scary movies that take place in remote desert locations!
I approach cautiously... thankfully no dead body or stash of heroin. No violence or mayhem ensue. Clear signs of vandalism, but a nice vehicle none-the-less, with leather seats, sun roof, all the bells and whistles. I find a Palm Springs golf resort brochure, golf tees and spare change in the center console. Package of cigarettes and chewing gum in the door. License plates are gone. Very strange that this expensive car was not winched out by the authorities or an insurance company as it's worth a lot of money if just for it's parts. And like the rusted-out, shot-up old car above the wash, this new addition to desert decay had absolutely no business being driven to this location. Perhaps is was stolen? Some kid taking the family car out for a joy ride? If so, they sure managed to end up in an incredibly remote location!

Back home, my wife calls the local police to report what we have found. Because of the remote location, they refer us to the Highway Patrol. The lady on the other end of the phone seems only slightly interested in gathering the information and abruptly asks "Are you saying it's not on a paved road? Our vehicles can't get to remote off-road locations!". Really? Well, OK. Not sure what happens when crimes are committed in unpaved areas (which is the vast majority of the desert!). Anyway, we've done all we can do to report it. They mystery of the abandoned late-model SUV continues!!

Linking to Sliders Sunday and 
Hope your weekend was a great one!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shaded Hills

I've always liked landscape photos that show hills or mountain ranges with varying shades as they fade off in the distance. I have a taste of that in my header photo, and some of the photos I took last weekend in the desert show this same effect. I used a telephoto lens to accentuate the effect. The further away the hills are, the lighter and softer they get.

All the same photo, just edited to create different shades.

Linking to Skywatch Friday and  Photo Art Friday
Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Across the Street from Mr. Wiesner's Store

As if Mr. Wiesner's abandoned store way out in the middle of the desert wasn't strange enough, here's what you see looking directly across Highway 62 on the other side of the street.
Quite a view, eh? A larger-than-life rendition of the flag-planting on Iwo Jima. A pretty good likeness, too. Here's the US Postage stamp, 1945 issue, for comparison purposes.
There's also a large military vehicle and trailer right next to the flag-planters. All combined, it creates a powerful image!

Another view of the military truck in b&w with the lonely desert hills in the background. Maybe this little outpost makes more sense when you realize the location... about 35 miles from the 29 Palms Marine Base. Even so, it seems very surreal to see this scene, so far out in the desert, virtually in the middle of nowhere, as you're driving along on Highway 62! Oh, and it might have brought a few extra customers into Mr. Wiesner's store.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tattoos and Hand Grenades

If you head east on Highway 62 into the CA desert past 29 Palms, you quickly find yourself officially in "the middle of nowhere".  For the full experience, make this trip in an open top Jeep in the summer so the dust sticks to the sweat on your body, and you start to get the picture. 
Highway 62
About 30 miles out, you will see a few ramshackle homes and trailers, and a structure that looks like it might have been a convenience store and gas station back in the day. The sign on the door says "Wiesners". The store and gas station are long gone, and the store owner appears to have abandoned the place in a hurry, leaving everything inside. It has the feeling of a time capsule. You can just imagine old Mr. Wiesner saying "I'm done living in this hell-hole, I'm locking the door and moving to _______" (fill in the blank with the town of your choice).
Mr. Wiesner appears to have had a sense of humor (probably a requirement to survive in this area).  Bumper stickers on the front door say Miss Fortune Tattoo Parlor - Pain is Temporary... Tattoos are Permanent! and Pair O' Dice Tattoo - Downright Ruthless Tattooin!

If you look in the side window, there's a little surprise... see the hand grenade in the window? Would have been a really interesting place to stop and have a cold one on a hot desert day.

Seems funny to see this old arrow directing traffic to Wiesner's store. There's very little traffic on Highway 62 this far out in the desert!

A fun weekend adventure, and a lot more photos to share on future posts. There was a surprise directly across the street, so I'll post on that soon. Leaving the desert today... back home for Father's Day. Wishing you a happy weekend and to those Dads out there, Happy Father's Day!

Linking to   and 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

I was going through some old photo albums and ran across our family vacation prints from 1998 (give or take a year). It was probably one of our most enjoyable trips... the kid were at perfect ages, and White Sands is incredible.  It's actually not sand (typically sand dunes are made of quartz or silica sand) but it's gypsum.  Gypsum dunes are much rarer than traditional sand dunes, and White Sands is the largest gypsum dunes in the entire world at 275 square miles!  Gypsum feels a lot different from sand, too... a lot softer and smoother.
My daughter and son ready for blast-off!
My wife brought along some blue plastic sheets (used for sliding in the snow) and the kids went crazy sliding down the gypsum hills!  Fun times!!
I laugh every time I see this one... my son flying down the hill, my daughter crashing in the background!
I love the colors in the skies over the white powder hills.
The end of the day and my wife is still smiling!  But the kids look totally exhausted!!
Linking to Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to check out great skies from all over the world.  Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Geococcyx californianus, the Greater Roadrunner

What do you picture in your mind when you think of roadrunners?  If you're anywhere close to my age, it's probably something like this. Blame it on Saturday morning cartoons!
Although the Roadrunner is called the "signature bird of the desert Southwest", we don't see them all that often in 29 Palms.  When we do see them, they tend to be kind of skittish, and they are very fast, so quite the challenge from a photography point-of-view. So we were suprised to not only see a roadrunner last Sunday morning, but to see it on our patio! As we rushed for our cameras, my first thought was "why bother... he's going to be long gone"! But another surprise... he was hanging around and going right up to our sliding glass door as if he wanted to come in the house! At first we thought he might be injured, and then a really funny thing happened:  Lap Dog Knits went out on the patio and the roadrunner headed straight for her! It was weird, and it kind of freaked her out. She surmised that this particular roadrunner must have been someone's pet, and that "someone" must have looked a lot like her!!  We all had a good laugh... check out this post: A few suggestions... My wife named him "Randy" the Roadrunner.
We put out water and different kinds of food to attract Randy (bread... not interested; bird seed... not interested; fruit... no; meatball from last night's spaghetti dinner... bingo)!! As it turned out, food didn't seem necessary to attract this roadrunner. I think Randy would have come right in the house if we let him!
Man in Black letting "Randy" the Roadrunner get to know him!
Randy was very curious...
And very photogenic!! Check out that spiky hairdo!

Funny how sometimes Randy's spiky hair is up, and other times down.
As we were getting ready to leave the desert last Sunday, Randy followed me around the yard as I was putting things away. At one point, I almost tripped over him because I didn't realize he had come up behind me!  What a strange and fun experience, and hopefully we get another chance to see Randy the Roadrunner!
Linking to:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wash Walk

A crazy week, but things are looking up. Last Saturday my sister and brother-in-law helped us move some furniture out to the desert. My brother-in-law has a GMC truck that looks like it was just driven off the showroom floor! This is an iPhone shot, but you get the picture... a really nice truck, and a nice guy to help me lug this stuff out to the desert!

One of the first things we did when we got to the desert late Saturday was a short hike up the wash next to our house. Desert washes intrigue me.  Pick any desert wash, grab your camera, and take your walk at sunset and you will be guaranteed some good photos!
Lapdog Knits hard at work!
I love these old desert signs. This one marks my neighbor's property.
I really like this shot of my brother-in-law. The high pass processing in Photoshop turned his skin a shiny dark color that makes him look like he's been out walking around in the desert for a really long time! The orange in his binoculars are reflecting the sunset. Very cool!
"Yucca Moon"

Cactus flower:  I shot this lying on my back and shooting up to capture the sky!
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Painting with Light

We were in the desert near Joshua Tree last night and after our spaghetti dinner we decided to go out and try to photograph the moon. A nice warm desert night with a nearly full moon, so just about perfect!
After our moon shots, we decided to have some fun with flashlights and long exposure photography. My sister (Lap Dog Knits) and brother-in-law were my "photo-models" and good sports about trying different ideas.
We used a flashlight for selective lighting... and a 20 second exposure!
B&W version of my sister and brother-in-law in their truck.  15 second exposure.
Lap Dog Knits walking with a flashlight during a 20 sec. exposure... looks ghost-like!
I like the lights of the city in the background.
I used PS to make this photo look a little like a painting.
My favorite shot... Brother-in-law waving his cell phone, and sister waving a flashlight.
I guess we're easily entertained!!
Hope your weekend was a good one!  Linking to: