When you get up early and leave at 4:30 in the morning for a sunrise shoot there are no guarantees. You pick a location that has potential and, by getting out so early, you up the potential for great light. It might, and then it might not happen. But you’re out there anyway.
When you arrive, the desert is still dark. You stand by your car, talking quietly with friends, sipping hot coffee and watching the emerging light on the eastern horizon. There is a sense of eagerness balanced with patience. Often, however, just being there is its own reward and coming home with a keeper is icing on the cake.
The earth brightens quickly this time of day and soon you grab your gear and head out into the desert. For me, just wandering and not looking for anything in particular is the best approach.
I prefer to let images come to me rather than hunting them down. When something I see stops me in my tracks, these turn out to be the best photographs. It’s not because I’m searching for leading lines or applying the rule of thirds or any other of the many ‘rules’ of composition. I don’t like to think when I’m photographing; I prefer to become quiet and simply experience. And when I’m in that state of mind I stop in my tracks because it just feels right. And the stop is usually followed closely by an utterance of surprise and joy – “Oh Wow!”.
Such was the case with “Sheep Pass Morning.” The morning shoot was winding down, meaning the sunrise had come and gone and the wonderful golden hour light was quickly fading. I wandered aimlessly and “Boom,” there it was. I was excited. This just felt right. And yes, I did say, “Oh wow!”
I set up my camera and composed the shot. I was conscious of the cluster of rocks in the lower right corner and their relationship with the Joshua trees on the right edge. I was conscious of outcrop of rocks on the left, the mountain range in the background (Queen Mountain) and the clouds. All these elements were in my mind but mostly I was seeking balance and harmony. During that time, distant Queen mountain into shadow so I waited for the light to came back, cheering it along. Then the moment came and I tripped the shutter.
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – Sheep Pass Morning (2016)” »
Tags: balance, golden hour, harmony, Joshua Tree National Park, Lightroom, Nik, PhotoShop, Queen Valley, sheep pass, Silver Efex Pro, sunrise
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This past weekend I just completed a photography class for the Joshua Tree National Park Desert Institute. We spent the weekend photographing in the park where we found some fantastic light and had some incredible opportunities that I’d like to share with you.
The title of the class is “Fine Art Photography in Joshua Tree National Park” and the emphasis is on not only becoming a better photographer but also growing as an artist. There were four eager and enthusiastic students. We photographed together, camped together, shared meals together and generally had a great time together.
Tags: big horn sheep, boy scount trail, cholla garden, dawn, desert institute, fine art photography, golden hour light, Joshua Tree National Park, sheep pass, sunrise, sunset
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Every year in March we get together for some photography, fun and fellowship in Joshua Tree National Park. It is an informal gathering of photography enthusiasts of all skill levels. We camp in one of Joshua Tree’s campsites. We rise early for the glorious desert sunrises and stay up late, talking around the campfire. And every Saturday night we eat far more than we should because of all the delicious food at the pot luck.
Joshua Tree National Park is Southern California’s premier national park. It boasts three major desert environments – the high desert environment of the Mojave Desert, the low desert of the Colorado Desert and the transition zone between the two. Its magnificent and magical Joshua Trees that give the park it’s name, the rock outcrops of the Wonderland of Rocks (world class climbing), the grand vistas of the Pinto Basin, the treacherous beauty of Cholla Garden, the spindly ocotillo, the peaceful and cool oases and much more make this a photographer’s paradise.
In 2012 we are scheduled for March 16-18. We will be camping in the Cottonwood Campground at the southern entrance to the park where we have a group campsite reserved. It is open to photographers of all skill levels who love the outdoors and the thrill of landscape photography. And the cost is your contribution to the Saturday night pot luck.
We gather Friday night, set up and enjoy a friendly campfire. Saturday is filled with photography, hiking and an informal class. We are also treated to the work of a guest photographer. Saturday night is the big pot luck dinner when we all have a chance to relax and share stories from our day. We do another sunrise shoot on Sunday morning before packing up and heading home.
If this sounds like fun, check out our website for more information. Here’s the link.
The group site is tent camping only and we are restricted on space. Regular camping is first come, first served. Meaning: you need to register for the gathering. Registration consists of two forms – Registration and Assumption of Risk. Also, if you want to camp in an RV or all the spaces in the group site are taken you will need to camp in one of the regular campsites. This is generally no problem and you can still participate in all the activities.
People are already signing up for this popular event so get your registration in now to secure your spot. The forms can be downloaded from my website. Here’s the link. You can fax or mail the form to me. Instructions are on the website and the form.
So come on out and join us in beautiful Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua Tree Gathering is an event not to be missed! And if you know someone who might also be interested share this post with them.
Tags: campfires, camping, hiking, joshua tree gathering, Joshua Tree National Park, photography, photography workshops
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Thursday night I drove to Twentynine Palms for the Joshua Tree Art Festival scheduled to begin Friday morning. I was so tired that when I went to bed I planned to skip sunrise, something I never do when I’m in or near the park. But I work up at 4:00 AM because the neighbors turned their bathroom fan on. So….
Tags: California, Joshua Tree National Park, photography, Ralph Nordstrom, workshop
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Well, no shooting with the new toy yesterday or today. As I haven’t given up my day job yet it’s necessary to get some consulting hours in to bring home the bacon. Besides, the client is happer when I pay some attention to them. However, the RRS L bracket came today. So I’ll be able to attach the camera to the tripod without having to use the long lens – always a good thing to be able to do.
But this weekend is going to be very exciting. First of all, it’s the 1st Annual Joshua Tree Gathering, open to anyone who owns a camera and isn’t afraid to use it. See the post. But I’m going to attempt a series of sunrise shots from first light to the sun fully up. The thing that makes this interesting is I’m going to attempt to do this as 360 degree panorama. I hope I don’t have to add HDR to the mix. Arg!
Continue reading “Canon 1Ds Mark III Upcoming Shoot” »
Tags: Canon 1Ds Mark III, desert, fine arts, Google Earth, HDR, Joshua Tree National Park, pano, photography, phtographer, Pinto Basin, Ralph Nordstrom, sunrise
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The first annual Joshua Tree Gathering is scheduled for January 18th through January 20th in Joshua Tree National Park. We welcome photographers of all levels of ability. If you’re interested, leave me a comment to this post.
Tags: 2008 Gathering, fine arts, Joshua Tree National Park, photography, phtographer, Ralph Nordstrom
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