Last April, I took my nearly-annual pilgrimage to Joshua Tree National Park. Although I posted a number of images to my Instagram account, I’ve only published one image here. Until now. In no particular order, here are my favorite ten images from this year’s trip.
1. Airborne over Joshua Tree
Flying into Palm Springs, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be in a small regional jet. Coming from Colorado, the flight ends with a traverse across Joshua Tree National Park. This image, captured with my iPhone, shows the low-elevation California desert giving way to the higher-elevation Mojave.
2. Quail Mountain
We camped in Juniper Flats. True to its name, Juniper Flats is a relatively flat valley with a fair number of Junipers mixing in with the Joshua trees. This late afternoon image was taken by some boulders near our campsite, looking across the flats to Quail Mountain. Quail Mountain is the highest point in the park, and was to be our destination on our second day.
3. Beaver Tail Cactus
If you want staggeringly high cliffs or awesome peaks, you’re better off in Utah or Colorado. Joshua Tree’s beauty is in its subtle details. I love the complex texture on this beaver tail cactus.
4. Sunburst, Late Afternoon
I love the look of Joshua Trees, but finding novel ways to photograph them becomes more difficult over the years.
5. Joshua Tree Sunrise
Alas, I went back to bed right after shooting this, and missed whatever atmospheric pyrotechnics were coming up next.
6. View from Quail Mountain
On top of Quail Mountain, the midday light was hot and harsh. Black and white does better in these conditions. Here I emphasized the alternating bands of color, starting with the black rocks on the mountain peak, and ending with the hazy skyline in the distance.
7. Dead Tree
I love dead trees, especially burned ones— the bleached out trunks coupled with blackened branches, the spindly Mandelbrot patterns of the outreached limbs, and the simplicity of it all against a featureless sky.
8. Run Rabbit, Run
Juniper Flats was teeming with jack rabbits of every size and variety (and coyotes too). This guy ran through our campsite a couple of times while we were sitting and quietly talking.
9. Granite in the Sun
Afternoon sun on the rocks yields the signature Joshua Tree Orange.
10. Morning Clouds
Our campsite in Juniper Flats was perched at the base of a hill of granite rocks. When I first camped there in March of 2008, we jokingly referred to it as the Pile… Of Rocks, with a noticeable pause at the end of pile and a heavy stress on the final two words. This year we camped there because it helped block the strong winds on the first day. On our final morning, puffs of cotton filled the sky next to the Pile… Of Rocks and it became my favorite image of the week.