It’s no secret that Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite places in the world. I discover something new with every visit. This time it was Rattlesnake Canyon. Rattlesnake Canyon leads up from Indian Cove, snaking its way through the Wonderland of Rocks (actual name, and accurate) to Willow Hole. It’s inside a day use area, and I’m usually backpacking in the park, so I’ve never before had a chance to visit. The canyon has a reputation as a steep scramble, and it definitely lived up to that. What I wasn’t expecting was water- and lots of it. We encountered the stream surprisingly close to the parking lot, and it got larger the farther we went. While not as lush as Smith Water Canyon, it seems to be formed from the same impermeable layer of white granitic rock. There is no official trail through the canyon, but there are better ways than others. After visiting a small waterfall, we found one of these deficient routes. Climbing too high up the side of the canyon, we had a slow, sometimes tense, scramble through a boulder field. It took some time, but we eventually worked our way back down. When we did, we climbed up through a small gash in the rock. The granite (in Joshua Tree, it’s always granite, never sandstone) glowed orange in the open shade. Growing directly out of the rock, clinging to life, was a gnarled Live Oak, my favorite image of the week:
Live Oak in Rattlesnake Canyon
Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 18mm, f/8 at 1/30; ISO 400.
Just above this Live Oak, we re-entered the main canyon. At this point it became a true slot (in granite!), with cascades and a chorus of croaking frogs. I would have loved to explore more, but we had reached our turn-around time. I’ll be back.
Digital Darkroom. This image took more work than expected. That glowing orange we saw in person rendered as rather flat in the initial RAW file. My original efforts using Lightroom on the iPad were an exercise in frustration, which continued when I moved to the Mac. I nudged up the saturation of the green leaves, and set the Tone Curve tool to “Strong Contrast.” I had to tweak exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. And then I tweaked it again. And again. And again. As I write this, I’ve printed this image three times, and I’m still not convinced I have it dialed in correctly. I’ll have to hang it on the wall and look at for a few weeks before I consider it done.
WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.