Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors

Joshua Tree National Park is known for its namesake – the Yucca brevifolia, or colloquially the Joshua Tree.  In my previous visits to the desert park, I spent a good amount of time photographing the trees, however on this trip I was hoping to explore other aspects of the park; particularly the arches.  Joshua Tree is home to one famous arch, known as Arch Rock, but then the desert is full of an untold number of other arches of varying sizes.  The challenge is finding them, and navigating the desert where there are no trails can be tricky.  Lucky for me I was meeting up with a friend, Mark Robben, who has been exploring the park for years, which made wandering off into the desert at night a little less intimidating.

Here lately I haven’t collaborated with other photographers on images, mostly because getting schedules to line has seemed especially difficult the last several years.  Mark and I have been talking about meeting up in the desert for a while, and so it was really awesome to finally pull it off.  There’s just something really fun about working together with other people on a vision, and then seeing what the other comes up with after the fact.  Mark was kind enough to bring along a whole host of lighting options, so you’ll notice that this week and next week’s images have a distinctly different feel to them than most of the things I’ve been creating recently.

For this week’s Picture of the Week, Mark and I setup lights on stands around the arch and in the arch, to achieve the desired appearance of the structure.  We then light painted the rocks in the background with the lights cranked up to a higher power so that the viewer could get a sense of what was back there.  Unlike the arches in Arches National Park, which are massive, this unnamed arch is probably a little less than 5 feet tall from the bottom of the opening to the top edge of the rock.  It sits up on a platform though, that is probably 7 or 8 feet high, requiring lots of scrambling around to get the lights just so.  It was really really fun seeing what effect the small changes we made had on the overall scene.  What a blast!

More next week!

–Dan Thompson

Title Address Description
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

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