Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

Last week I drove out to Joshua Tree National Park to explore some new areas and to spend the night in a favorite backcountry area in the open desert.

Camping in the open desert and being there for sunset was the best part. In fact, I specifically headed here because I saw high clouds in the forecast. High clouds at sunset means the possibility of nice colors. That’s what I got: a beautiful sunset with a slow burn afterwards. I had been waiting for a long time to catch this.

Joshua Tree Silhouette
Hidden Desert
Through the Branches
Joshua Tree Moon

During the day I explored some other areas of the park. There are so many interesting rock formations.

Dwarf Juniper in Wash
The Keyhole
Juniper

Click here to see more photos.

Windstorm in Death Valley

When I saw the wind would be 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph, I made the last-minute decision to head to the sand dunes in Death Valley National Park. I hoped the wind would be strong enough to wipe away footprints left from previous visitors. Also, I was hoping for a bit of a mystery in the atmosphere. I got both. These were some of my favorite shots of the year! I especially loved the simplicity of lines created by light and shadow on the dunes. Most of these photos were take with a 100-400mm lens which helped get close to distant dunes and exclude distracting details.

This first shots below were taken when the winds were gusting, just before sunset, throwing sand in my pockets and ears. I was wearing googles and a face mask to protect my eyes, nose and mouth. My camera was shaking on the tripod, so I had to use a faster shutter speed with images stabilization on. The tripod, about 6 pounds, almost blew over. I caught it in the process of tipping a few times.

Sandstorm
Sand Tsunami
Sand Crater

The next morning, the wind was still blowing, but much calmer. The only footprints in the sand were from some other early visitors.

Launch Pad – taken before the rising sun hit the dunes
The Dolphin
Sharp Edges
Shadows

Later that day, I returned once more before sunset. The main areas of the dunes were marked with footprints, so I ventured to a less popular area. I was following one other set of footprints left by another photographer. Again, I found some great shapes created by the curve of the dunes and shadows.

Photoshoot on the Dunes – Look on the distant dune and you will a few people.
The Pipe – If you want to gain a better perspective for the context of this photo, click the link below and see the photos at the end of the collection.

To see the full collection from this outing, click here.

I love to hear which, if any, photos stood out to you. Please leave a note in the comments. Thank you for looking.