Alrighty, well I promised that if you would hang in there with me through some cityscape pictures, I’d return to nature pictures, so off to the desert we go! While in California, I had to spend time in San Diego and LA, and so on the weekend in between, Holly and I decided to go to Joshua Tree National Park. We had visited the park once before, but only for a few short hours. Holly and I stopped in to see a friend of ours who’s husband was stationed at the Marine base there in Twenty-nine Palms, and we drove to the park together just for the afternoon. It was enough of a taste that I knew I wanted to go back!

The desert is an interesting place. I found it to be quite beautiful, but it is very definitely a different kind of scenery. There is literally not much there (hope you like Denny’s!), but the mountains and the Joshua Tree’s themselves are challenging and fun subjects, and I found something special about how barren it was. I could see how people might not want to stay there too long though; I was kind of ready to move on after the weekend (lots of respect for the people who move out there for the military!). That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to go back, BUT, I like it in short stretches.

So, why would you want to go there? Well, for one the Joshua Trees themselves, formally known as Yucca trees, are neat to look at and are fairly rare. They generally only grow in the Mohave Desert in the United States. Also, Joshua Tree is a great place to go star gazing! They *can* have insanely clear nights, with relatively low light pollution, which is awesome. One night while we were there, we could see the Milky Way plainly with just our eyes (stay tuned for pictures!). Pretty incredible! And, of course, if you’re from the East Coast, its nice to visit just to experience a totally new landscape.

This weeks picture is actually not of a Joshua Tree, but rather a young Pinyon Pine tree. This photo was taken from Keys View at Sunset. We had a few incredible sunsets while we were in California, and this evening was one of them. My head (and camera), were on a swivel the entire time. I looked towards the east to see what the Alpine Glow was doing, and was treated with these cotton candy pink clouds. Very strange formations and brilliant colors… I couldn’t go wrong… except I ultimately needed a subject. At the top of the overlook, where I happen to be, there isn’t much vegetation. The winds coming over the mountains keep everything cleaned off pretty well. Just down the hill though I found this scraggly little guy, along with the white rock, and I thought it made for nice foreground elements. Sometimes we as photographers approach a situation with an agenda, and it doesn’t work out. This was an excellent reminder that compelling images are always taken of what we are presented, rather than whatever we had in mind.

I wanted to start with a sunset this week, and we’ll progress through different stages of night, till sunrise over the next few weeks. Have a great week!

–Dan Thompson

Keys View

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