Joshua Tree Part, Again Part 2

Joshua Tree Part, Again Part 2

More Adventures In A Great National Park


The previous post about our fourth trip to Joshua Tree National Park challenged landscape photographers to think differently in places that they photograph on a regular basis. Here is another little project that resulted from this challenge.

Light Painting

For me the purpose of night photography is to portray the solemn and quiet mood of the night. Light painting in night photography can cause the landscape to be overwhelmed with bright lights and “spoil that mood” so to speak. However, having a little extra light can come in handy as a fill light or to create the illusion of another natural light source.

The weather forecast in Joshua Tree National Park called for cloudless days while we were there. Since our last trip yielded dramatic skies and a crazy storm, I decided spend some time working in the twilight hours to find some interesting light. The challenge was to show the details and textures of those beautiful, surreal rock formations when they were in near darkness and backlit. The the only tool I had was my trusty headlamp. It casts a nicely diffused light that doesn’t overpower the ambient twilight. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Joshua Tree Quarter Moon by Richard Lewis 2017


Morning Still Life by Richard Lewis 2017


First Light by Richard Lewis 2017

Don’t Stare At The Sun

On our last morning in Joshua Tree I headed to the popular Key’s Overlook to continue photographing the early desert twilight. As the day started to break, the unexpected nice morning light was far superior than what I was getting earlier. You just can’t beat a beautiful dawn in the desert.

At 5:30AM I had the overlook to myself. As it got closer to sunrise, a few other people showed up to watch the sunrise. Most were taking pictures and pointing their phones and cameras at the spot where the sun would rise in a cloudless area of the sky. Like most serious landscape photographers, I’ve seen a lot of sunrises. After a few hundred times, the sun rising into a plain blue sky just isn’t as interesting as it probably is to people that don’t get to see it on a regular basis. It’s a powerful experience, just not necessarily a photogenic one.  What is very important is that sweet “Golden Hour” color which is not necessarily where the sun is. The first two photographs below were made at about 30 and 180 degrees away from  the sun.

Red Sky At Dawn by Richard Lewis 2017


Early Light On San Gorgonio Mountain by Richard Lewis 2017

This last photograph at Keys Overlook was made just after the sun came up and I loved how the light was spilling between the mountains and backlighting the plants on the ridge that I was standing on.


Sunrise On Keys Point by Richard Lewis 2017

Always Bring Your Camera

Barker Dam was built in 1900 to supply water to local ranchers. It is the only place in Joshua Tree National Park with standing water. The hike there is short, but I considered whether or not to bring a camera. It was a hot day with harsh light from a cloudless desert sky. Plus, the water levels were low which would make the lake formed by the dam look more like a mud hole. Why carry all that camera gear if it won’t make it out of the backpack? Well, I took it anyway, and found an interesting tree in a nice spot displaying some nice fall color.

Fall Colors At Barker Dam by Richard Lewis 2017

Parting Shot

Light Flows Los Angeles California

Light Flows, Los Angeles by Richard Lewis 2017

I’m learning to love Los Angeles as a photographic subject. If nothing else, it is an interesting juxtaposition to the natural landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park. The neat thing about cityscapes is the ability to compose with straight lines. Plus, at night, the landscape light paints itself.


2018-01-02T10:11:54+00:00January 2nd, 2018|10 Comments


  1. Bonnie Rovere January 2, 2018 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Such beautiful sights to see in a lifetime. Well done!

    • Rich Lewis January 2, 2018 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bonnie. I appreciate it.

  2. Joe Marcone January 2, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Awesome shots of an awesome place.

    • Rich Lewis January 2, 2018 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Joe, I couldn’t agree with you more about Joshua Tree National Park being an awesome place.

  3. eajackson January 2, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    The first three remind me of some of the scenes from Lost in Space. Danger danger. Seriously though these are all interestingly detailed. Really love the fall colors shot. Yellows and blues are pleasingly vibrant.

    • Rich Lewis January 2, 2018 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      There is really a very other worldly feel to Joshua Tree and when I’m out there alone it does feel like I’m going to run into that robot somewhere. The tree with the fall colors really surprised us, especially because were were there at the end of November.

  4. Wesley G Vandegrift January 3, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Beautiful! You have much to share!

    • Rich Lewis January 4, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Skip!

  5. denisebushphoto January 26, 2018 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I agree that often light painting can look unreal and overwhelming but you have shown that it can be done to look more subdued and natural … excellent work! Your sunrise advice and photos to support that advice are great as well!

    • Rich Lewis January 29, 2018 at 6:14 am - Reply

      Thanks Denise. I always appreciate your comments and feedback.

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