While driving through the desert a couple weeks ago, I departed under the same clear skies we’ve had for most of the summer. After a couple hours, I noticed a tiny cloud or two on the horizon. I was headed in that direction, but didn’t think the situation would be the same in two hours. When I arrived, there was an hour or more of daylight remaining, and to my surprise, the cloud cover appeared to be getting better. I stuck around until sunset before continuing on to my destination, glad I had my camera along.
Hard to believe this was just three weeks ago. Snow flurries were on the mountain, thunderstorms were rolling through town. Now the spring/summer temperature yo-yo has begun. Not for long, I’m sure, as summer is inevitable.
If there is one plant that distinguishes the Mojave Desert from other deserts, it would have to be the iconic Joshua Tree. In many locales, they often appear dehydrated and scraggly, and very much unphotogenic. The healthier ones tend to appear in large forests as though there is strength in numbers. Oddly enough, California’s Joshua Tree National Park is not the best place to find these. Select pockets in Arizona and Nevada have the best ones I’ve come across, and it can be even more memorable if you are lucky enough to catch these plants in bloom.
This one was near the town of Searchlight, Nevada, and the sky was perfect this day for my backdrop to several large healthy Joshua Trees. Leanne Cole has included this photo with the work of others in this week’s Monochrome Madness. Check out her WordPress blog for MM, or her blog on her website for more photos.
Those of you in the midwest and eastern U.S. would probably be glad to send winter our way. Here in the southwest, we’re struggling though another pitiful winter. The Chamber of Commerce probably loves it, and the news people deliver forecasts with cheerful expressions, but the reality is snowfall is our future water supply and our best hope against another disastrous summer wildfire season.
Last week I was flying to New Orleans and as our flight path took us over the Grand Canyon and northern New Mexico, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of snowfall on the ground. It’s late February, and these are places that should be under a couple feet of snow. Since my return, there has been one saving grace of a storm, and I can see snowfall on more than just the highest peaks around Las Vegas for perhaps the second time all winter.
As a photographer, I love the changing of the landscape as the winter storms pass through. In the lower elevations, we know it doesn’t last long, and timing can be critical to capture the event before it melts. When snow falls in the sandstone canyons, the contrast is usually spectacular. Last winter started out looking promising. A three day rain finally moved on and left the mountains dumped with snow.
The photo above, taken that next morning, is one of my favorites. I have never seen a snowfall here that left everything unrecognizable. I wasn’t sure if those were plants or rocks under all those bumps. I had periods of sunlight breaking through that morning, but the softer light under cloud cover was the best for this situation. I can only hope it’s not another year before I can capture winter’s transformation.