Thursday, December 16, 2010

Skywatch: Monolith Meets Juniper, or The Photographer as a Detective

I was searching for this spot in Joshua Tree for at least the past two years.  I had seen some snaps of it here and there on the web, but no one ever said exactly where it was... and I even asked every park ranger I could find if they knew about it, but no one had a clue!  Back in October when I shot this, I tracked down a geo-tagged picture on Google Earth locating it in what seemed an unlikely area, but it was the best lead that I could find... and when I got there,  there was indeed a trail in the spot indicated, so I gave it a try, hiking a mile out into the middle of nowhere hoping the coordinates were accurate. When it became apparent that it wasn't going to be where it was supposed to be, I was seriously bummed, but determined to get some good work in anyway, since it was just a perfect, soft-light type day for photographing out here.
Later on, while driving through a well known campground to a good spot that I was already familiar with, a distinct shape somehow caught the corner of my eye (and I've driven past the same exact spot many times), up on some rocks above an unoccupied camping spot.  I thought it was pretty unlikely to be here in such a heavily used area, but I did stop and park just to check it out.  Hoorah!.. there it was:)  The standing rock is totally invisible from the road, but I had luckily caught just enough of the tree to make me stop and investigate.
Of course, totally the wrong light at that time, so I went down the road to work for a few hours, knowing that right before sunset was going to be perfect for this scene.  I got so busy over there though, that I ended up having to pack up in a hurry and rush back here to catch the good light, which lasted (as it likes to do) only a few minutes.  Only film gear on hand this day, so I had to fumble as quickly as possible to get a roll into a back and find the right lens/angle (actually kind of hard if you could see the whole situation with bushes and rocks in the way), but managed to get off a whole roll of 20 shots over a period of about 15 minutes.  This is a very wide angle view.. the monolith rock is quite a bit bigger that it appears here due to the wide-angle lens.  I also caught another completely different version, shot in the twilight after sunset that I like a lot, too.
All in all a very satisfactory day, since some shots from earlier also turned out quite nicely.  I'm planning to head back out here again this coming weekend,... we are in another unsettled weather pattern right now, and stormy skies are ideal for shooting in JT.
Tech note: Shot with a Mamiya 6x7 medium format, on Fuji Velvia 100. No filters, (no time:).
Check out the SkyWatch homepage every weekend for more great sky images from all around the world.



28 comments:

The Retired One said...

Stunning!

Rosadimaggio63 said...

Amo questa foto.
Meravigliosa.
Buona serata.
Myriam :)

Steffi said...

Very very beautiful photo and an interesting post!Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend!

Mike B. @ slugyard.com said...

Your hard work paid off- great shot.

Øyvind Buljo said...

Very cool! Like it alot:)

Sylvia K said...

This is so awesome! What a fantastic capture even if you did have to wait for it! You did a superb job! I would enlarge this one and hang it where I could see it as a reminder of what you can capture if you're determined. Thanks for sharing this one! Have a great weekend!

Sylvia

EG Wow said...

Thiis is a stunning shot!

Photo Cache said...

just a spectacular capture.

My Sky Is Here

roentarre said...

Long time no see, my friend.

Truely unique and perculiar image in deed! Seriously, your image is such an inspiration that I want to pick up photography again.

Such a stunning colour with use of wide angle lens.

Gaelyn said...

A lot of work for a well deserved shot. But then JT has so many awesome possibilities. Look forward to more.

lotusleaf said...

Perfect picture! I'm glad you found the location of the tree.

Y. Ikeda said...

Perfect composition, lighting, and colors. Breathtaking photo!!! Only the one who visits the same place numerous times can take magnificent photo like this.
I should be following your BEAUTIFUL blog from now on.
Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day.
Yoshi

Carolyn Ford said...

oh, now I am going to want to find this too! This is a wonderful composition of such an unusual subject (or two).

J Bar said...

What a brilliant photo. That's awesome.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

dailyphotogallery said...

It looks fantastic :-) Great detective work too, I'm glad it paid off :-)

Luna Miranda said...

an awesome find! absolutely beautiful photo--glorious nature!

desertsandbeyond said...

Joshua Tree is indeed a magical place! We're driving up there after the next snow storm! Which campground is this in?

LauraX said...

excellent sleuthing....and so worth it....such a peculiar and beautiful photo! Wow!

Dimple said...

I haven't shot film for a long time, but I remember fumbling around with lenses & filters, trying to get the shot. Great shot, I'm glad you succeeded!

ladyfi said...

Superb! Such an unusual and lovely shot.

Francisca said...

I'm so glad you went through all that so I could enjoy the special scene in Joshua Tree though your wonderful lens.

storybeader said...

that IS other worldly. The wood of the tree looks to me as a bird's head. Oh, and the sky is nice, BTW. Glad you found it... never know what's going to be around the corner! {:-D

Mario said...

What a beatuiful shot! I love the varying textures and the curving composition.

Patrick said...

Amazing image Mark and the perfect light is beautifully enhanced by the Velvia.

I love this composition of course but will we see another view of the monolith without the tree ?
And one under the snow :)

lynnpaints said...

Love your work.Exeptional.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Hi Mark! Just wanted to drop by to wish you the happiest of holidays!
Wonderful image, too, just as I expected!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What an amazing find you made and I am so glad with all of your searching and patience, you made this awesome image happen. I hope that you plan on getting a handsome print of it and have it framed and hung where you can reflect upon it often~

Balaphoto said...

Excellent shots!!! salut!!

Frank, Barcelona

http://balapertotarreu.blogspot.com