Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ojo Oro Arch at Sunset

I made it, yeah!! 
OK, perhaps I should back up. Two posts ago I had climbed to the top of Vampire Arch, risking life and limb. I managed to get some great photos, but it was getting close to sunset. My goal was to be at Ojo Oro Arch for sunset, but I had almost 1/2 mile to cover and very little time. Talk about a cliffhanger (more accurately, an archhanger!?) [sorry].
What an interesting rock formation! If you could find a way to the top, I wonder what you would find?? See how easily I get distracted? Onward to Ojo Oro!
Wow, there it is... Ojo Oro Arch at sunset. Doesn't get much prettier than that! Not many people have seen this arch, and even fewer have seen it at sunset (because it requires you to be comfortable navagating back to your car in darkness through open desert).
One from earlier in the day of me sitting under Ojo Oro, taking a selfie.
Fasten your seatbelts, because the desert sky is about to explode. For about 30 minutes, things became magical. It didn't matter where I pointed my camera, the sky was beautiful in all directions!

Yet another arch!
Strange sky glow, looking NE (away from where the sun had set).


Rock face.

Somewhere on the hike back to my car, I came across two large pottery sherds. This is significant because the Native American presence is thought to have been minimal in this part of the Park. It's one of only a few times I've found sherds out here.
I'm guessing the dark areas are from where the clay was fired. The sherds were placed back where I found them. So thrilling to come across these!
Right after taking this short video, I had to put my headlamp on. The video compensates for the low light and makes it look lighter than it actually was. By the time I got back to my car, it was totally dark. What an exhilarating hike!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Remember... take only pictures, leave only footprints!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Blood Red Lunar Eclipse

 A couple nights ago, my son texted and asked if I was going to photograph the lunar eclipe. My response was: "What??" And then, "Oh, thanks, I didn't know about it!" 

So I Googled it: Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse. Geeze, who comes up with these crazy names?? I haven't done any moon photography for a while, and I thought it might be a fun challenge. As a warm-up, I decided to practice on the moon on the evening before the eclipse (Saturday, 5/14/22).

Piece of cake! I used a tripod, although probably didn't need it, as the moon was very bright. I used my trusty 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens with a 2x extender, which gives me a maximum focal length of 800mm. Pretty good! The only downside is when I use the extender, I lose autofocus and have to focus manually. The best way to focus manually is to put the camera in "live view" mode (so you can see what you're shooting on your camera's screen) and then magnify the image. As you might have guessed, it requires a lot of button pushing, which gets confusing quickly. Anyway, I was happy with this photo. Focus was nice and sharp. It was taken at 7:50PM, shooting out of the upstairs window of my granddaughter's bedroom.

The next day (Sunday, 5/15/22: Eclipse day) the optimal eclipse viewing time was supposed to be between 8:30-9:30PM. Moonrise wasn't until 7:30PM, and I was worried the moon might be too low on the horizon at 8:30PM (my neighbor's roofline might be blocking my view). I set up my tripod and camera about 7:30PM and crossed my fingers.

I got lucky! By about 8:15PM, the moon was just visible above my neighbors roofline. My first few shots were junk. The partial eclipse just didn't photograph well, with a section of the moon being extremely bright and the rest being in deep shadow. The photo above (8:29PM) has just a hint of non-eclipsed moon in the upper right. It was thrilling to watch, and so interesting how the white areas of the moon slowly become red-orange (or blood-colored), and the dark areas became blue.




By about 9PM, the moon was fully eclipsed and almost invisible to the naked eye, and it became impossible to focus the camera. I also needed to increase my exposure time, which is not a good thing. You might have noticed the last two photos are looking a little blurry, and it's because the eclipsed moon was too dark for accurate focus. But I learned an important lesson about taking photos early in the eclipse cycle, before the moon becomes to dark to focus on. Oh, and by about 9:15PM, I heard a voice: "Grampa, will you please stop taking pictures, I have school tomorrow and need to go to bed!!" OK Lilly, night night!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Vampire Arch

 Last post, I left off hiking somewhere south of Ojo Oro arch, enjoying the weird rock formations and taking photos as the mood struck. My ultimate goal was to loop back north and photograph Ojo Oro at sunset.

Yet another interesting arch. This one is long and low, and I've never seen it before, so fun to happen upon it.
I call this desert milkweed. Not entirely sure that's accurate, but it's the best I got. Interestingly, I only see it out in this area of Joshua Tree National Park, never in the other areas that I hike. It grows really tall and spindly in this land of almost no rain.
Que "Jaws" theme music! You can see the sun has moved a little lower on the horizon. I have a decision to make. I have an arch I spotted off to the north, but not sure I have time to go check it out and still get to Ojo Oro by sunset. What the heck, let's go take a look!

I wonder if many years ago this was an arch, and it collapsed on itself?

Sky cross
I knew this would happen. On the way to the arch I want to check out, I run across all kinds of interesting arches and rock formations that I simply have to photograph. It's a nice problem to have. I even manage to find time to check out a really interesting pictograph in the area.
Color enhanced using dStretch.
Ah, finally, there it is. It can be seen for quite a distance because it's large and up high on the boulders. I wonder if there is a way to climb up to it without killing myself?
After much huffing and puffing and cursing, I manage to climb up to the arch. Look at those two little pointy things at the top of the arch opening. They remind me of fangs, and the name "Vampire Arch" jumps into my head. It's quite large. I can easily walk underneath it to the other side.
One of my favorites: Looking through Vampire Arch!

The views from Vampire Arch are beautiful, but as you may have noticed, the shadows are getting long. Yikes, I'm going to have to really skedaddle if I'm going to make it back to Ojo Oro by sunset. Is skedaddle still a word? You know what I mean!
Please join me next post to see if I make it in time, and thanks for joining me for this part of the adventure!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Rocks, Arches, and an Old Truck

 My goal for this adventure was to hike to one of my favorite arches in Joshua Tree National Park and photograph it as the sun was setting. It turned out to be an awesome hike, and I took close to 100 photos, so I'll split the hike into two or three posts. Let's see how far we can get today!
This old truck wasn't too far out of my way, so I decided to drop by and say "hi". It's a couple miles from the highway, and how it came to be partially buried in this remote wash must be an interesting story indeed!

The rocks and boulders in this area are eroded into fantastic shapes!

A very long, low arch.
Here's the arch I had come to photograph. Can you spot it? Middle of the photo, upper third.

What a beautiful arch! It's been called Confusion Arch and Ojo Oro Arch (golden eye in spanish). The Ojo Oro name seems to have stuck, and that's how the handful of people I know of who have seen this arch refer to it. I'll continue my hike, with the goal of coming back and taking more pictures of this beautiful arch around sunset (future post).
Back side of Ojo Oro Arch.

Someone is watching me!!
Nooks & crannies!
This is such a wonderful place to wander, camera in hand, and enjoy these weirdly eroded rock formations. 
Thanks for joining me, and we will continue on from here on my next post!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.