Thursday, May 25, 2017

Geology Tour Road (revisited)

I've posted about GTR in Joshua Tree National Park before, and probably will again, as it's one of my favorite areas in the Park and a great place for a Jeep ride. It's 18 miles of off-road dust and fun, with some great stops along the way! I was there with my cousin at the beginning of May and had fingers crossed that there would still be some good flower blooms. Last year I had driven GTR in early April and was really surprised to see some of the best blooms in the Park back in the Pinyon Well area.
Turns out, the flowers weren't bad, but not nearly as good as last year. I'm chalking up the difference to missing the "peak" by about a month, but who knows for sure? 
Above is cousin Scott exploring some of the ruins near the Pinyon Wells area. This was an active mining area back in the day and an interesting area to explore.

 Scott was driving, so a rare opportunity for me to ride shotgun and take some pics!!
That double mound up ahead is called Malapais Hill. On the drive back home (heading north), GTR will take us just to the right (east) of the hill. It's volcanic in nature and made up of rock that is darker than anything else in the area, so it kind of stands out.

I also took the opportunity for some TTV shots, which I hadn't done in a long time. If you're interested in the details, click here. Basically, I'm pointing my DSLR through a long box that blocks out the light, and focusing on the viewfinder of an old vintage camera (in this case, a Kodak Duaflex II).

Photo credit S. Wessel
I know, I look like a knucklehead walking around the desert taking photos like this! The resulting image is as good (or bad) as the optics of the viewfinder you are using, but you usually get some optical distortion, dust, grit, and maybe even a light leak. Ironic, since I pay good money to buy a camera and lenses with great optics!! But if you are looking for that old, vintage look, it's hard to beat!
Through the viewfinder shots of cousin Scott under a JTree (above) and posing in front of my jeep (below). We had a great time exploring the area!

Same area (April 2016)

Same area (April 2016)
Oh, the sacrifices I make for a decent photo! I always end up with a cactus thorn or two somewhere in my body after a productive photoshoot!!

But here's the payoff! This photo and the next were actually taken in a slightly different area of the Park on a different hike about a week before the GTR drive.
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Have a great (and safe) Memorial Day weekend!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oil Field Property #2

So, this post continues where I left off last week. Basically, walking around taking pictures on private oil field property that's been abandoned for many years and that I have no business walking around on! I'm usually a rule follower, but I have been known to break the rules for a good cause 😉.

A pretty sky over wild mustard.

OK, that's it for the wild mustard shots, I promise!!

 I'm not much of a plant guy. I should be, since I have my undergraduate degree in biology and took a handful of botany classes, but the names just don't seem to stay put in my brain. Anyway, posting some plant shots today because there were some really pretty blooms on the oil property. These were all taken using my telephoto lens, which, surprisingly, takes great flower shots.

 Leaves of three, right?? Pretty sure this is poison oak. The bush was huge... probably 12' high and 15' wide, with many bushes this size in the area. I kept my distance.

 I have no clue what this, or the flower below, is. The flower above with the white blooms wasn't as common as the orange flowers below, which was all over the place.

The prickly pear cactus were really putting on a show.

Had I taken the photo below at night, the flower would have been open. Jimson weed is a powerful hallucinogen and has been used as a "vision-producer" by the ancients (and the not so ancient!). However, it can be fatally toxic in only slightly higher doses than those used as an hallucinogen.
Datura (aka Jimsonweed, aka Devin's Trumpet). 

Really nice of this little guy to hold still so I could take his picture. Is it just me, or does he look a little bit grumpy??
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

In a Sea of Yellow

I posted previously about this abandoned oil field property called Coyote Hills here: Pave Paradise. It had been a few months and I had the urge to visit again, and perhaps check out a different section of the property. The area has been vacant for many years now. It's beauty lies in the fact that it's been totally off limits to the public and has reverted back to its "natural" state. As it turns out, the big hole in the fence is still there (actually, there are now two), which makes me think Chevron doesn't care too much if people want to go in and explore. The property will likely be developed soon.
These oil field maintenance roads crisscross the property. They were paved at one time, but much of the pavement has eroded away over the years and they look more like jeep trails now.
Lots of flowers blooming this time of year. Probably the dominant flowering plant is wild mustard (actually a highly invasive weed that has naturalized throughout California).
Fluffy cloud over wild mustard flowers.


In a sea of yellow... the entire background turns to a greenish-yellow as you get your camera close to individual flowers.
Closer still....

Super close!!!

From the hills of this property, you can get a pretty good view of downtown Los Angeles (20 miles away as the crow flies). With a 400mm lens, it looks much closer!! This was taken on a hazy, semi-overcast day. You could get some spectacular shots on a clear, blue sky day!

Thanks for stopping by! I'll do a follow-up post with more pics from my hike around Coyote Hills in the near future.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cloud Surfing

This jet reminded me of a lone surfer, trying to get out in front of the churning whitewater "wave" of a cloud. Hmm... perhaps I've been out in the sun a little too long??!

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Thanks for stopping by!!