We recently went to Joshua Tree with our good friends Mark and Carolynn. We only had time to shoot one afternoon and one morning. We had bald skies again, but did the best we could with what we had. We went to Josh about two years ago as novice photographers (see original blog post for more photos), so we were looking forward to seeing how we might have improved our eyes and our skills. Here is our tight itinerary:
Arch Rock at White Tank
Arch Roak at Joshua Tree is my least favorite arch in California because of the rock that is in the middle of the arch. However, you feel like you have to shoot it. We arrived in the late afternoon and worked it as best we could.
One of the favorite subjects at Josh is the Round Boulder at Jumbo Rocks and this cool tree and “bird rock.”
Sunset at Hall of Horrors
After a quick picnic dinner we searched for the “right Joshua Tree”. When looking for a sunset tree, you want to find an interesting one that has some gaps in its arms, and some gaps between it and other trees in the background. There are usually not very good foreground subjects, and its gets dark fast, so this is typically a silhouette shot. Also remember to create space between the Joshua Tree arms and the mountains in the background.
Sunrise at Hidden Valley Campground
There is a large number of Joshua Trees just outside the Hidden Valley campground. Again, you want to find an interesting Joshua Tree and capture it in silhouette. The key moment is just before sunrise and just at sunrise where you can capture a “sun star” if you put your aperture at f/22 (see cover photo).
Mary made an infrared photo of this magnificent Joshua Tree.
In the Hidden Valley proper, there are a number of great macro shots of flowering cactus and other subjects.
Cholla and Octillo Cactus Gardens
On the way out of the East Entrance of the Park, you will pass the Cholla and Octillo Gardens. Though it was mid-morning and really bright, we got a few following cactus.
The last stop out of the Park was at Cottonwood where we saw a few wild flowers, but nothing spectacular this year.
As you can see when you have limited time and must shoot with bright sunlight, black and white and infrared are ideal options. We did not use a guidebook and I have not seen one. There are a few websites with helpful hints and we also visited places we tried in 2009. To see more of and purchase some of our photographs, please go to www.pamphotography.com.