Thursday, October 28, 2021

White Tank Campground

 Well, I finally did it. I had been thinking about buying a newer camera body. My old Canon 5D II is really beat up from years of use out in the desert. It's been my trusty partner for a long time, and a wonderful camera, but it hit the market in 2005. That's really old in camera years. I bought a used Canon 5D IV, which reached the market in 2016, so 11 years newer. I really wondered if I would notice any difference in the quality of my photos. Lots of people say it's the "glass", not the body, that really matters.

I was driving down Pinto Basin Road in Joshua Tree National Park, anxious to try out my new (to me) camera, and was surprised to see that the campground was closed. This is one of the busier campgrounds in the park, but it was a hot summer evening in July, and the demand for camping goes way down in the hottest months. I drove about 1/2 mile further up the road to a turn-out and parked the Jeep.
The photo above was actually one of my last photos of the evening, but I'm showing it first to show you that the campground was closed, and also because it pushes the limits of the camera. The photo was take on Saturday, July 24, at 9:40PM. That's not a typo... 9:40PM! It was nearly dark, and I was without a tripod. I bumped up the ISO to 1250, f4.5, 1/50th of a second. It's a very usable photo, with almost no noise and decent focus. I couldn't have done this with my old camera. There would have been more noise for sure!

Wandering around the rocks at the White Tank Campground, I came across the White Tank Dam. It's one of two dams built in the area (the second is called Grand Tank) by the old ranchers that used to keep livestock here. I'd never seen it before, and it's interesting that there is a hole broken out in the bottom of the dam. I'm guessing the Park Service doesn't want it to become a swimming hole after a rain!
Luck was really with on this night. With the campground closed, I was the only person exploring the area. I had the White Tank rocks all to myself! Not only that, but I had a nice moonrise. For the above photo, I had to take two shots... one focused on the rocks, and the second focused on the moon, and then blended them in Photoshop.
Hiking along a wash, I came around a corner and came face to face with this cute little guy (girl?). They normally scamper away quickly, but not this one. He just watched me and didn't move. Might have been my imagination, but he seemed to be saying "It's just too dang hot, and I don't have the energy to run away!"
This boulder looks precarious. Would you walk under it??
Pretty golden light on the boulder. But what really caught my eye was the lack of spines on this small Joshua tree. Something had chewed most of them off. I rarely see that, and an animal has to be pretty desperate to eat Joshua tree spines. It's been one of our driest years on record, and the animals are hurting.
Does anyone else see a goose or duck with its head down?? This is called Arch Rock, and it's the most photographed arch in the park. It's always crowded, which is why I never come here. But today, having the place to myself, I could concentrate on framing and perspective. From this angle, it looks like a goose. If I had my way, I would rename it Goose Arch!

Arch Rock is a beautiful arch. Unless you're really tall, you can stand underneath the arch without bending over.

The wizard of White Tank!
Looks like it's going to be an epic sunset, but you will need to wait for my next post to see the rest of the photos from this outing!
My very last photo of the evening. Driving out of the park, down Utah Trail towards 29 Palms, the sky was this incredible shade of red. I had to pull over and take the shot (remember... no tripod). Camera settings: f 5.6, 1/10 sec, ISO 2500. Amazingly sharp for 1/10 sec., and impressive lack of noise for ISO 2500. Yup, I'm liking this new camera body!
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Oh, and Happy Halloween if you celebrate it!!


  1. your photos are always beautiful to me so I have a hard time telling the difference with the camers - now when you said that photo of the campground was take after 9 PM- that got my attention! wow

  2. Oh wow, such great photos with your new camera. You must have a steady hand as well. You could take great photos with an old Brownie but wow, what you can do with a new camera.

  3. ...this landscape needs to be seen to believe it. Mere words cannot describe this area. Thanks again for taking my along for the trip, let's do it again.

  4. Dearest Peter,
    One can really tell by your photos that you're quite enamored with your 'new' camera!
    Looking forward to many more spectacular photos.
    Love the 'Goose' Arch.

  5. An unforgiving but beautiful landscape. The wascally wabbit is a cutie.

  6. Glad you were able to upgrade your camera. Some impressive shots.

  7. Always loved your posts and photography.
    Awesome clicks.

  8. I immediately thought goose--- Fabulous pictures. The lack of noise on that picture really sets it apart. I wouldn't have guessed you had it set that high.

  9. Fantastic as always. That sign don't block the gate doesn't point on the gate itself I assume because that blocks it very effective. When it stands open you can't read it.

  10. Love the shots of the arches and rock formations. Glad you like your new camera.

  11. Beautiful photos. Big stones. So different of our country. Have a nice weekend !

  12. Exceptional rocks :-) The last picture is awesome too.

  13. First thing I thought was "Goose"! All the photos are great, what a nice time you that have had! Cute rabbit!

  14. Definitely should be Goose Arch. Interesting and educational, as always.

  15. Greetings and Salutations! I would not walk under that boulder. But did you see the face all scrunched up like the boulder holding it up was getting tired or losing strength to hold it up anymore. YIKE! Goose Arch photographs are fantastic! I am so happy you broke down and purchased a new camera (to you). It works just fine. Happy Shooting!

  16. As always, great shots. Love that goose and the moon rise. I am not smart enough to judge cameras, but of course the results you have are always fascinating. Enjoyed the trip. THANKS
    Sherry & jack over on the first coast!

  17. Yes ~ could see the 'duck' in the rock formation ~ Great photos ~ light seems sharper in contrast and striking photos ~ You have always had fantastic photos ~ Xo

    Living in the moment,

    A Shutterbug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  18. Fabulous photos as always. Yes, to I see the goose and no to walking under that rock. Rabbits sometimes freeze when you surprise them, I've found.

  19. That arch does look like a goose. Great photos and congrats on the new camera body.

  20. Fantastic photography as usual. Congratulations on your "new" camera. :)

  21. You did well with pushing the settings of your camera, cool photos as always.

  22. Fab pix as always - yes, I see the goose. And the wizard. Nice to see the bunny ... amazing they can survive in an environment with so little water, having to rely on plants for moisture!

  23. Wow these were awesome shots. I would love to visit this park. I did see the "goose" and yeah I'd probably walk under the one rock.

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  25. I find changing cameras is always difficult, and I only use a little one! I'm glad you are happy with the results you are getting.
    I would call it Goose Arch as well :)

  26. Your new camera took amazing photos--so crystal clear! I think the glass is important and as cameras age the glass and mirrors get spotty and scratched, etc. Sadly, I often rely on my cell phone for photos these days unless I am going somewhere very scenery specific.
    I do see the goose shape in the rock and I agree the wildlife is stressed by high temperatures and lack of rain this year in the west.

  27. Cool idea with the two pics merging.
    Cute bunny. Beautiful eyes.
    I think I´d rush very quickly under that hanging rock!
    Beautiful light indeed.
    Yes, I see a goose!
    Wonderful colors, this sure was a delight!

  28. Sure, Its A New Camera Body But You Have The Trained Eye - Like With Computers, The Problem Exists Between The Keyboard And The Chair - These Are High Quality Photos Here - The Arches Are Stunning And The Timing Of The Moon Was Clearly Shot With Perfection - And Capturing The Elusive Bunny, Speaks Volumes Of Your Demeanor - Well Done Brother - Well Done


  29. Congratulations on your camera! I have fun enough just with my phone lol and can't imagine how interesting it'll be as you get to know your new equipment.

  30. I love the blended moon. The moon is often my muse, as in my last post. Have fun with your new camera!

  31. Congrats on the new camera. Nothing like a new toy to try out! Love the moon rise shot.

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