Thursday, October 21, 2021

Joshua Tree Frames and Sunbursts

 I was out hiking Boy Scout Trail in Joshua Tree recently on one of those perfectly beautiful blue sky days. The sun was low on the horizon and I found myself looking for opportunities to add to my sunburst photo collection.
F22, 1/60 sec, ISO 125
You might recall that sunbursts are best created when the sun is partially obscured by a solid object (like the rocky surface in the photo above) and the aperture is stopped down (f22 in the photo above). It's fun and easy to do, and makes for a more interesting shot.
You can also get a pretty good sunburst by simply shading out part of the sun using the branch of a tree... in this case, a Joshua tree.
Interesting rock formation
It feels like I'm being watched! A short guy with a bushy mustache?

The two photos above are typical views along the Boy Scout Trail.
I also wanted to get some practice using Joshua tree branches as a natural photo frame, and to add interest and texture. In the photo above, the Joshua tree branch certainly adds texture. Getting in close and personal with these branches can be hazardous to your health if you're not careful!
Here's one of my favorites where the Joshua trees make a nice frame.

It seemed as if no Joshua tree was safe from me trying to coerce an interesting photo perspective. But a couple of them had their revenge, giving me good pokes with their spiny fingers!
Thanks for stopping by.
Stay healthy & stay safe!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Indigenous Peoples Day

 Indigenous Peoples Day was on October 11 (which was the day I started working on this post), and it reminds me that the Original People were here long before us. By all accounts, they were much more in tune with nature... its cycles, its inner workings, and its overall health. Many Most of my hikes in Joshua Tree National Park have a goal of seeing a cultural site. Trying to locate and photograph most of the major cultural sites in the Park has become somewhat of a passion of mine. With that in mind, let's go see if we can find a couple of smaller sites that a friend told me about. He was a little vague on location, and wasn't really sure if there was any rock art (it had been a long time since he had hiked the area), but he seemed to recall something at the sites.
It was a cool, breezy day, with pretty clouds overhead. Even if I don't find any rock art, it's a beautiful day for a hike. As is my usual practice, some of these photos are nowhere near the sites we will be visiting, and I will do my best to keep locations ambiguous.

I love those clouds!

This looks promising! It's pretty close to the location my friend said he thought there might be some rock art. Can you see it? Definitely some etched petroglyphs, but I also see some reddish color, which means there may be some faded pictographs as well. On closer inspection...
Straight out of the camera
Color enhanced using dStretch. With dStretch, the faint red color takes on more specific shapes, and there is no doubt that there are both pictographs and petroglyphs at this site. The site is within a nicely recessed alcove. It's a very comfortable place to get out of the sun and wind, and to sit and ponder those who were here before us.
Looking out from the alcove. This place has a nice, relaxing, and friendly feel to it. I would like to stay longer, but it's time to move on.
Site #2 will take some time to find, so I need to get a move on. I can't get over how pretty the sky is on this particular day. When all is said and done, I will have taken well over 200 photos on this hike. 


Site #2 should be around here somewhere. Lots of boulders, so there are many possible locations. But when I see this shallow alcove, my heart starts beating faster.

On first inspection... disappointment. I see nothing at all. But I remind myself to be patient, relax, and let my eyes adjust.
Wait a second. What about here? It's very faded and faint, but it might be something. 
Sure enough, with the help of dStretch, definitely a pictograph. This one reminds me of a banjo!
Perhaps something faint here? You can just barely make it out.

Yes!! The circle with the line through it is a common design, as is the "wagon wheel" motif. One can only ponder their meaning.
This indent in the rock looks like there might be some faint red pigment inside.
Yes, perhaps another wagon wheel design? What an interesting site!! Sites like this always make me wonder how many others have I walked right by and missed? And will these pictographs be totally faded and invisible in another 50 years?

This could have been a seasonal habitation site, but besides the pictographs, I see no obvious signs of grinding stones or mortars. 

This one is a head scratcher. It's doesn't seem likely that nature eroded this perfectly round hole in the rock. Yet it's only about 2-3" in diameter and seems too small to be a mortar. Yet mortar would be my guess, perhaps for grinding small seeds, such as chia seeds. 
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!
If you happen across these or other sites, please treat them with respect, and leave them exactly as you find them.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Old Dump Site

 Yes, I realize "Old Dump Site" is not a very exciting blog post title! But finding old rusty trash, sometimes referred to as "desert gold", can turn up some really interesting tidbits. What's that saying about one mans trash? It can also give you a feel for how people used to live. Most of the dump sites I've come across are small and are usually associated with mining and miners. 99% of their trash is old cans: Beans, sardines, coffee, tobacco, beer. Occasionally they would supplement their diet with a rabbit, but their diet was spartan and lacked variety (beans, beans, and more beans). The site I'm going to show you today is different. It's much larger, and the "trash" is much more diverse. But I'm getting way ahead of myself...
As the sun was setting over Dale Dry Lake (the topic of two recent posts) and I was getting ready to call it a day, I noticed a small "bump" between the creosote bushes that didn't look natural. I decided to check it out.
That "bump" looks like a piece of metal, perhaps an old car part. Even more interesting is the stuff strewn over the desert floor all around it. I think I've discovered a dump site, and by the looks of it, it's quite large!
I didn't have much time to explore, as the sun was going down. But wow, this looks interesting!

You won't hurt my feelings if you tell me you don't get excited about digging around in old dump sites. Perhaps I'm weird that way, but to me, this is a super-interesting slice of history!

The trash is an interesting mix of old and more recent, which means this dump has been in use for a long time. I wonder if this is the dump location for the community that was here at one time (the original Dale, or perhaps the mysterious historic town of Bush??). 
I think this is an old "vent hole" can in the photo above. The contents would be heated to sterilize it, and prior to cooling down, a small piece of solder would seal the vent hole at the bottom of the can (you can see the solder mark on the bottom of this can). As the contents cooled, it would create a vacuum. History buffs can tell you exactly when cans like this were used. All I can tell you is that they are relatively old!
This jug handle has turned a nice shade of purple due to long exposure to the desert sun.

Lots of broken pottery here... and not the Native American variety!

Tepco pottery was popular in the 30's and 40's. They were heavy, ceramic dishes... the kind you might find at a diner. The Tepco factory was located in El Cerrito, north of Berkeley. People collect Tepco pottery now. Another clue as to the age of this dump site.
Another old mangled car. This one is about 300 yards from the main dump site. I have a strong suspicion that if you really spent some time here with a shovel and sieve, there's no telling what you might find!

This structure might look familiar to you from previous posts!

Heart cloud and Jeep
Jeep, salt piles, and a beautiful desert sky!

On my way back to pavement, I discover this road heading north toward the Sheep Hole Mountains. That could be quite an adventure, but it will have to wait for another day!

Very last photo of the day!
Thanks for joining me on this unusual adventure!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Stay safe and stay healthy!!