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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Joshua Tree


Ken, Fred and I had been planning on driving out to Joshua Tree and bagging some pictures of the Milky Way in the new moon. We left about 11 yesterday, had lunch at Five Guys, the best chain burger restaurant around, and drove Ken's wife's car out to Yucca Valley, loaded with our photographic gear.


Being old guys we checked into a motel and grabbed a little nap. The motel was run by a couple of oompa loompas from Bombay, very personable. We reconnoitered in the lobby after our respite and checked out the park maps.


We drove out to the park around 4:00. Unfortunately a low pressure front was blowing in from the south, foretelling rain and serious cloud cover and our dream of catching the stars was pretty much out of reach. Being troopers we would make the best of it.

Ken and I both had new Bower and Rokinon 14mm 2.8 wide angle lenses. Not sure what Fred was using. They were shooting their Nikon full framed 810s, me the cropped sensor D7200.

We stopped at a few spots, took pictures of the local flora and rock forms.

Joshua Tree is a very pretty and picturesque place. I had rock climbed there at Intersection Rock with my late older brother David when I was a kid.

It had been far too long for a return visit.

Hard to think about Joshua Tree without thinking about one of my favorite musicians, Gram Parsons, who met his ultimate demise there.

In fact, coincidentally, he is playing on my Pandora station as I write this blog post.


Lovely flowers and cactus flowers abounded, in many psychedelic and captivating shades.


The neat thing about desert flowers is that the most boring looking plant might have the most amazing blooms, but they might last for only a day or two at most, so you never know what extraordinary bloom you might capture. Or just missed.
Ken and Fred are great to shoot with because they love photography as much as I do and require no hand holding or prodding. Always game to shoot.


And always willing to help each other out. Each one of us with a different angle and specialty, Ken is superb all around and Fred has developed into a top notch portrait artist.

We made our way to our intended destination, Arch Rock. We trudged up the half mile trail with all of our gear, way more gear than we actually needed. Now we know.

The clouds and inversion layer were getting pretty thick.


There were two couples already setup with their tripods and we made sure that we weren't interfering in their intended shoots, observing basic manners and photographer's protocol. They were way cool.

I got up on the rock and shot west, hoping for a sunset that never really came.

I volunteered to light the rocks from the backside for the team. We experimented with a variety of flashlights, gels and strobes to paint the rock. I was part of a collaborative team and rarely even clicked my own shutter.


It turns out that our compatriots were very competent, Gabe a pro from San Diego, Glenn, a photographer for Lowe Pro among others. They both had very nice pals, Kayla and a girl whose name I didn't catch.


Very few stars in the sky but we made the most of it.


I like this lens. Easy to focus, sharp and very responsive. And very inexpensive.

Yours truly


Our company and evening could not have been better. It was fun to work as two arms of a twelve arm team. Pretty seamless, everybody relayed their artistic instructions and all directives were cheerfully received.

Looking forward to going back when we can catch some more stars but loved it anyway.


We went back to the motel to get our gear and the good innkeeper practically begged us to stay the night so that he could cook breakfast for us in the morning but we gracefully declined.

Got home about midnight. Better luck next time.

If only...

6 comments:

Sanoguy said...

Nice!

Ken Seals said...

Narrative and photos all very well done!

Max Hall said...

Beautiful place...

Jon Harwood said...

A particularly good set of pictures!

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

Wonderful! The things you see through those lenses....

Anonymous said...


What incredible photographs! I loved them. We went to Borrego Springs a couple of weeks ago and the flowers weren’t out in bloom like your photographs. I also read your short story about the reporter interviewing the ape. You did make me laugh.

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