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Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo Excursions: Joshua Tree National Park

New Joshua Tree card web

The recently designated Joshua Tree National Park, with its bizarre lily-trees and sensuous rock formations, forms the northern edge of the Coachella Valley. The dramatic rise in elevation that occurs within Joshua Tree accounts for the varied habitats from both the Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems whose borders meet within the park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo and cholla cactus. The higher, moister and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the required habitat of the Joshua trees. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. Five fan palm oases dot the park and support a multitude of wildlife.

Along with incredible rock landscapes and a wealth of photogenic rock climbers, the most interesting photography comes at sunset when the silhouetted, stark and irregular outlines of the Joshua trees make them seem almost menacing.

Day 1
Depart from a designated meeting place at 6:00 am and travel to Joshua Tree, along the way we’ll stop at anold west town, and perhaps an antique swap meet before heading in to town to check in at hotel and have lunch. Depart hotel @3:00 to arrive in the park with enough time to take advantage of late afternoon sun and sunset, then back to town for dinner and bed.

Day 2
Depart at 4:30 am to arrive in park to capture sunrise. Morning light on the desert landscape is ephemeral, glorious and awe inspiring. We have two days in Joshua Tree National Park to capture the light and landscape of this unique area. In Mid-May, we might find many species of wildflowers, along with yucca, cacti and the stately Joshua trees, and if we are lucky Barker Dam will have rain water in its reservoir. As a group, we’ll decide whether to stay at the park for sunset the second evening to improve upon the classic silhouetted shot of the “trees” against a carmine sky.



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