Image Name: Sunset Wave
Photograph Taken: 2012
Located in North Coyote Buttes, this area has a lot of amazing eroded redrock. This image was made at last light in the area. The rock reflected a brilliant orange as the sun receded.
It was cold with snow throughout the area and the hike back to the car in the dark was tough, but it was well worth it. The area is accessed by a lightly-maintained high clearance road, and includes a trail-less hike to the area. A special-use permit is required to access the area, and a lottery is used to provide the permits.
I have been to the area several times because there are so many unique formations to photograph.
I recently trekked to Garrett’s Arch in Joshua Tree National Park. Garrett’s Arch is likely the largest arch in Joshua Tree, although another unpublicized arch could give it competition.
Garrett’s Arch is located in the Wonderland of Rocks backcountry. The trailhead begins at the Wall Street Mill parking lot, proceeding briefly before veering left towards the Wonderland Ranch/Wiley’s Market ruins. Proceeding behind it, you will pick up the Wonderland Wash and follow it.
At about 0.72 miles, you should reach Jaguar Rock. This is your first major landmark along the way. After Jaguar Rock, the wash will enter a valley. Proceed north. Keep in mind that the Wonderland Wash will veer North but to the left. This will take away from your destination.
Find the wash just to the right of Wonderland Wash, and you will pick it up through another canyon. Keep going until you reach Three Freak Brothers to your right. This is an easy-to-spot rock formation, and will alert you to the proper time to turn right. The immediate right requires bouldering. Keep North to the next turn and you will pick up the side canyon and save some energy.
Immediately, you should spot the Red Obelisk, another beautiful formation in the middle of the canyon. Once again, the canyon will open up to another valley. Keep going East, but veer North of the rock formations in the middle of the valley. After you pass, you will pick up your last canyon. Keep looking left in that canyon, and you will easily locate the arch.
Keep in the mind that the arch is in a difficult location. A moderate but dangerous and slippery rock scramble will get you to a ledge below the arch. There is another high wall that prevents entry to the arch itself. The arch is also covered in the back by a large growing tree, so seeing “through” the arch is obscured.
A wide-angle lens is needed from this location. You can also stand on the rocks in the canyon to get a larger image.
The mileage came out to 2.1 to 2.4 miles and is mostly easy, with some very minor rock scrambling.
Skyfire – A Review of the App
As a user of the app, I thought I would include a few notes about the app and what value it brings to the landscape photographer.
Weather is complicated, and I am often faced with making value judgments on the locations to choose for sunrises and sunsets. Some I have accurately selected, but what sticks with me are the times I got it wrong.
Living in the San Diego area, the majority of the days are sunny, which do not necessarily make for the most engaging photographs. The right type of clouds entering or leaving the area are rare. In addition, for a good portion of the year, the onshore flow produces a marine layer that are usually death for the light needed in the morning and evening. Sometimes I head to the coast for what I think will be a great image, only to find the marine is just a couple miles inland and ready to kill the light.
Skyfire is the first app to attempt the incredible challenge of using weather predictions to forecast the right type of light. The interface is simple. With a login, you are taken to the member interface. The first you will see is the prediction for the nearest sunrise or sunset. A Google Map and a static map are included. Visually, it works as a heat map. Dark blues are complete cloud cover with little light, light blues are clear skies with no clouds, and the colors warm from there until you may have light and dark reds when the landscape is really going to light up.
The first question everyone asks is: Is it accurate? My experience has been that the app has been extremely accurate. I have spoken to Matt the few times the app was off, and most of the time, it ended up being an inaccurate weather forecast. We know what they say about predicting the weather.
There have been a couple occasions recently that not only did the app give me a good indication that I should be out shooting at the right time, but gave me good insight into where in the area I should go. For an app that is attempting to forecast light in the entire United States, this is excellent.
So, would I recommend this app? If you are a landscape photographer, who wants the best images at the far margins of every day, before sunrise and after sunset, then I highly recommend this app. For $25.00 a year, you will gain insight that will help you pick the right days and the best areas to photograph. Just one image that you wouldn’t have shot without the app makes the price easily worth it.
The app is currently html-based with plans to eventually be available on iOs and Android. Visit Skyfire at www.skyfireapp.com.
The Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park will be coming out next month! On behalf of my co-author, Jeremy Long, I am very excited for the first edition release. The Guide will be available in multiple formats, Ibooks, Kindle, Nook, and a PDF edition. All should be readable on the device of your choice.
This is the point where finishing the guide becomes extremely stressful. Text must be completed, and then proceed through multiple revisions. Image placement will need to be just perfect. Every detail must be looked at, and most importantly, the book needs to be released. I am a perfectionist, and the quest for that perfection often results in little work completed. I am very much looking forward to the completion of the guide so we can proceed to the next one.
Purchase and download instructions will be available at www.jtphotoguide.com once we are completed!
In about six months, I am planning to co-author my first book, the
Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park. My co-author and lifelong friend, Jeremy Long are extremely excited to bring this project to fruition.
Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to finish this guide for artists and photographers everywhere to enjoy. I am also quite nervous. Good artists are endlessly creative, but good artists who are smart also know how to bring a project to completion.
This goes against my perfectionist nature. Left to my own devices, I have no doubt that I would spend an eternity writing, rewriting, rearranging, redoing, starting over, and spinning in circles. Putting this guide together with a partner gives me a person who can push me to do my best work, but also work toward a defined result.
Partnering is very important. Nobody really makes it on their own. Even Ansel Adams had Alfred Stieglitz and Ed Weston. Ask any successful photographer and artist, and they will tell you that partnering and networking are crucial to being successful in their field.
This isn’t my strong suit, and I need the help. I can write pages and pages about carefully planning to shoot a scene in the best light, but thinking about networking with others and building relationships is lost on me.
This book makes me ponder my personal strengths and weaknesses. One of the keys in partnering with others is to find people who can help you with your weak points. Ideally, your strengths can then be a source of inspiration and mentorship for others as well. Don’t go it alone. Make the success of your friends and colleagues part of everything you do.
If all goes well, the Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park will be the culmination of the efforts of two people with different expertise and strengths. We will seek to build a guide that provides the motivated photographer some tools to begin building a strong Joshua Tree portfolio. The book will not be exhaustive, because that is impossible. We are excited to bring this project to you and hope it is a welcome addition to the photography field.