Joshua Tree 2011 Scouting – Day 2

14 Dec
 

Traveling between destinations has an annoying habit of cutting into photography and scouting time.

Yesterday, with a long drive between Death Valley and Joshua Tree, while we arrived at a great time for photography, we also only graced the perimeter, so to speak, of the park.

© 2011 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail BC (at) ZAPphoto (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at  919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.Today, we started out in the Cholla Cactus Garden. Cholla. That’s pronounced CHOY-ah, for those who are not so conversant with Spanish.

Also known as the “teddy-bear” or “jumping” cactus, there are at least two varieties of this plant in the park … Silver (the most common) and Pencil. We were photographing these fascinating plants, using the low light to accent the prickles.

Before we got into the garden, however, we were surrounded by Dusky Chipmunks. I am one to talk to the animals. Some of you who have been on workshops with us have seen this first hand. I did my normal hamster/chipmunk noise, and one cheeky little soul came right up to my foot.

“I’m not going to feed you, so don’t get your hopes up,” I ch-keh-ch-keh-ch-kehed to my new friend.

“There’s always hope,” it chattered back.

Now, those Cholla Cactus, fuzzy, they ain’t. There are signs and notes in the park literature to be careful, as those little fuzzies have imperceptible barbs on the end, useful for survival, but not so good when Arnie gets into the car later and finds he has become a host to a five-inch-in-diameter ball. We didn’t test it out, but they are reported to cause quite a sting and be very difficult to remove.

Arnie shook his leg and foot, and it dropped onto the car carpet. Great! Now, we have prickles on his pants, shoes, and carpet. I had one of those tell-us-how-you-enjoyed-your-stay cards from Death Valley, and I handed it to Arnie so he could maintain a respectful distance between the prickles and his hands.

Fortunately, the carpet was one of those over mats that could be removed. First, he used the card to flick the unfriendly and persistent creature out of the car, then removed some of the spines from his shoes.

People were coming into the garden, so we moved to give more parking space. Don’t tell anyone, but I think that Arnie ran over the prickly critter on the way out.

“Oh great,” I said, “Now we’ll have a flat tire. Either that, or we’ll take the beast all the way back to Las Vegas when we return the car.”

Fortunately, Arnie was able to get almost all the spikes off of him and the carpet, and no, we did not get a flat tire. For safety, though, Arnie kept checking all four tires!

All humor and near-misses aside, it was an amazing place. Everywhere we turned, yet another group beckoned to us.

© 2011 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail BC (at) ZAPphoto (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at  919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.Today was a day for dramatic back- and side-lighting. We kept exploring various areas of the park and came to a section with rock climbers.

What first caught our eyes, however, was a Joshua Tree shadow on the rock face. The light at the ends of the day in mountainous areas is ephemeral. Now you see it; now you don’t. It was there, and we got at least some of the shots we wanted; then it was gone.

Arnie found some more things to photograph, but this scene drew me over. I got one shot off, then it, too, lost the light.

It’s a lesson we keep working on in our workshops. We slow people down to speed them up. Sound crazy?

Yes and no. If you slow down and learn how to compose, know your settings, etc., then you can capture the light when it is short-lived as it was here.

© 2011 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail BC (at) ZAPphoto (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at  919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.Since we had missed the classic viewpoint down into the Colorado Desert last night, we headed there.

“We’ve missed the light,” Arnie mused.

“I don’t think so,” I responded, and we decided to move along.

In some ways the light was gone, but it provided a moody look to the landscape. And then, the sky lit up, as it often does.

One lone Joshua Tree called to me. It was a good way to end the photographic day. For Day 3, go forward two blogs, i.e. the one after Leaving Las Vegas, or by clicking here.

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