A week ago, I took a trip to to my mom's house for our annual family Passover gathering. She recently moved to Las Vegas, which is a long trip from my home in North Carolina, so I made the most of it by extending my trip to spend a few days camping and photographing in the Mojave National Preserve. The Mojave is a beautifully rugged place, with a wide variety of terrain and far more plant and animal life than one would expect in a desert. The preserve is huge at 1.6 million acres; much of it is designated as wilderness, which means that there are few marked hiking trails, but the area is open to exploration on foot. Roads through the preserve vary from paved to washboard-surface dirt to nearly off-road ones which require an AWD vehicle with high ground clearance. For more information, see http://www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm
Recent knee surgery limited my mobility, so most of these photos were taken very near the road. I brought all my camera gear, but the only lens I ended up using was the 12-60 SWD. This speaks to either a) the incredible versatility of this lens, or b) my terrible lack of vision and creativity. In all, I used only four pieces of equipment:
1) E-410 camera
2) 12-60 SWD lens
3) tripod (used for all photos)
4) circular polarizer (for all photos that were not in the early morning or late evening)
I would have added a remote release, by my e-bay special quit working after a couple of hours, so I switched the camera to anti-shock mode instead. The only other kit I wish I had was the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye I've ordered (and the E-M5 to use it on.
This first set is taken at or near the "Hole-in-the-Wall" campground--a well-maintained, but primitive facility.
1. Joshua Trees at sunrise
2. There were a fair number of cactus, and shrubs were everywhere. This is a 3-exposure HDR processed in Nik HDR Efex to handle the back/side-light at sunrise.
3. Another view of the cactus, no HDR. Those needles are exceptionally sharp (yes, I found out through experience . . .)
4. The Mojave is a mountainous desert, with elevation ranging from 880 to almost 8000 feet. Here is just a little bit a mountain, with contrast adjusted in Nik Viveza 2.
5. Joshua Trees are everywhere, sparse in some areas, much more dense in others. I gave this one a B&W treatment (with copper toning) in Nik Silver Efex Pro2.
6. Along with the mountains, there were many interesting rock formations. Some were part of the mountains, some seemed to occur in random places. Here is one in the background. I don't normally go for the black sky look in B&W images (processed with Silver Efex), but the stark contrast seemed fitting for the desert.
7. Same rocks, closeup. There was quite a bit of wildlife, but it was difficult to photograph because much of it tended to show up at night. Rabbits and Jackrabbits were abundant, but I mostly saw them attempting to cross the road right in front of my car when I drove at night. I saw a couple of Ravens and Kites. There were quite a few small birds (which I couldn't identify), but they didn't stay still long. I saw family of Mule Deer run up a hill one morning, and disappear on the other side before I could get my camera out. And I saw what I think was a Bobcat, which appeared by the side of the road as I was driving one night, and quickly disappeared into the bushes. This is my only "wildlife" photo from the trip . . . can you see it?
Otherwise, I don't think the composition is all that spectacular.
8. In the early morning light, it was sometimes difficult to keep my shadow (and the camera/tripod's shadow) out of the photo, so I purposely included it here.
9. After a rather harrowing, unintended adventure on some of the smaller "roads" that almost left me stuck miles from help and kept me out in unfamiliar territory after dark, I came across an extraordinary sunset. By the time I found a place I could stop and see it well, I had missed the peak color by a few minutes. I added a little back in this three-exposure HDR.
Thanks for looking! More to come as I process the rest of my images.
- Hal -