From Vegas to Joshua Tree

After an excellent Photoshop World in Washington DC, Karen and I flew back to the bus in Las Vegas. We had a few things to do in the city before moving on. First of all, we had yet another bus repair to have done (there have been several in the past few months.) The bus has an air leveling system, and one of the front airbags had a serious leak. I had already purchased new air bags and we got them installed at a local shop. We also had a modification made to Karen’s workstation on the bus. She has a desk with a 27″ display, but it wasn’t positioned high enough. This ended up putting stress on her back, so our great friend Steve built her a little desk riser for her monitor to be mounted on. This raised the whole thing about 7 inches and [after Steve and I spent a night installing it] she’s much happier now!

When we finally moved on from Las Vegas (we had spent a LOT of time there during the past year), we headed to Joshua Tree National Park. It was only a four hour drive, so we took our time meandering there and stopping along the way. We stopped at a place called the Kelso Depot within the Mohave National Reserve and shot a post office building, which looked pretty old and worn. Our drive also overlapped Route 66 for a few miles and include the “town” of Amboy. If you’re not familiar with my work, I have an entire series of Rt. 66 photography, and you can check that out HERE. Karen got a great shot of me on “The Mother Road” during our stop here.

Karen’s shot of me on Route 66. (Literally ON Rt. 66!)

We arrived in Joshua Tree at night and planned to get out and explore the next morning. My friend Sean Mahoney, who lives in southern California and is also a photographer, met us out there for breakfast and then a day (and night) of shooting. He visits the area a lot and gave us a lot of tips on where to go shooting. We started off at a funky folk art-ish place owned and created by Noah Purifoy. We got there in the glaring mid-day sun, so we were all shooting HDR (and just taking in the unique vibe of the place).

Here’s Karen, Me and Sean and the Noah Purifoy art site.

Joshua Tree National Park was our next stop (obviously!). We stopped in the visitor’s center so Karen could get her stamp (she has one of the National Parks Passport books and has been accumulating a lot of stamps in the recent years) and then did the Barker Dam hike. The dam itself wasn’t too exciting because the water level was extremely low, but as we continued on, we had some fun shooting the Joshua Trees and the general landscape in the area. We also did the Hidden Valley hike, which featured much of the same landscape. I focused on shooting some straggly trees as well as some images for my future seminars.

Don’t really think a caption is necessary here!

While the daytime shooting was all nice and fun, the good stuff started after the sun went down. Karen, Sean and I went to dinner at a great little place called Bistro 29 and then headed back into the park to an area called Jumbo Rocks. Sean had a good place in mind for some light painting, and it turned out to be perfect! We set up our tripods just before it got dark and then we started to play. We took turns lighting the scene and trying out different techniques and light sources. We even ended up with a curious audience since there was a camp site just down the hill from where we were shooting. Some of the campers were thrilled by what they saw on our camera screens and we even saw some of them trying out light painting for themselves in other areas of the park! We tried some new techniques that I will be covering in my upcoming e-book on lightpainting.

The finished result of my night of light painting in Joshua Tree National Park.

Unfortunately, our last day in Joshua Tree was extremely windy and not suitable for shooting, so I spent the day editing images. When we moved on, we headed toward Palm Springs for the 7th Annual Palm Springs Photo Festival. I’ll be teaching a few classes here this week and taking a few classes as well. More to come…