Friday, February 22, 2013

The Joshua Tree Project - Solo in the Mojave

A class project due, very little progress made despite several attempts. Disappointment expressed by my instructor (though in a polite fashion) in my previous submission. Obviously, my existing strategy of shooting while on various recreational excursions is not a sound one. It's time to get serious and go on a mission focused trek, one without spouse, friends, a dog, beer or any other distraction.

I plan on a 10 to 12 hour exercise, including 4 hours of travel time. I figure that I will need to allow time for scouting locations and that peanut butter sandos, bottled water  and fruit will suffice for subsistence.

My initial efforts are a disappointment. The harsh mid-day lighting makes broad landscape photographs unappealing. As landscape shots are my assignment, I realize that I have to move away from them until conditions improve and instead do some supportive detail work. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for that.

Despite the photographs not being exactly what I need, I am somewhat encouraged by the results. It would appear that the day will not be a total waste.

The desert in winter is a vibrant place, greener than one expects, a prelude to the wildflowers which will follow in a month or so. Despite this, there is also plenty of starkness that remains - a reminder of the harshness that the desert is known for.

The flora of this place makes interesting subjects. The limbs appear to move much as a flaccid arm might, one missing bones and joints and blowing in the wind.

And the sky. Always the sky. One can never disregard it, despite its constant presence and its utility. When it is beautiful, one must take pause and relish its aesthetic qualities.

As they day moves along, the sun drops lower in the sky and the light becomes more cooperative in me completing my assignment.

Although there are people around, I mostly avoid them. I do not want the distraction and I do not want them to disrupt my enjoyment of the solitude - nor do I want to disrupt their enjoyment, whatever it might be. The person in the photo below probably never saw me, I barely saw him.
I think it's safe to say that at that moment, we were both enjoying that place though for different reasons and from a different perspective. (click to enlarge) We were both swallowed by the vastness of this hidden valley, its scale forgotten to me until I saw the climber in the photo.

As the sun continues to descend the, light becomes warmer though the temperature does not.

 The shadows grow longer and in some cases the change from a horizontal state to one more vertical - one that I can use to my advantage.

 The sun lowers further, opening new opportunities. I become happy, realizing that this trip is going to be productive, that my goals and needs are going to be met. The best part is that I will have experienced this time of beauty and that I will have captured it.

And, as it always is for me, it continues to be about the sky. Always the sky.

When the sun sets the visual experience changes from what is occurring where you are, to what is occurring many miles away.

There is always light, it's a matter of capturing it and supplementing it.

A Coleman lantern allows me to see what I am doing and it adds some light where I need it., a flashlight helps too. It is the stars however, that are what I want to show. The stars need no light, they speak for themselves.

The stones, the trees, the stars and the sky. Always the sky. All combine to make this place as special as it is. I'm just glad I was there to enjoy it.


Please excuse my episode of artsy-fartsiness. Sometimes ya just gotta let go.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I looked all over for the climber.....never did see him. Excellent photos!! Even if ya got all artsy fartsy on us!!

  2. Fire Cap 5- The climber is on the left side of the photo, about half way up the large smooth rock face right next to where the rock and sky meet. He is a mere speck, giving a sense how big that rock face is.

    Thanks for the comment and the kind words.