• Mojave Green Rattlesnake
North America's most deadliest snake in the Western Edge of the Mojave Desert.

How do you take a manly wildflower photo? Hit the shutter once you're laying on your stomach and a Mojave Green pops up out of the bed of flowers and scares the crap out of you! This was my first rattle snake sighting besides seeing them cross the road all the time while driving in the desert! Luckily I shot in burst mode the moment I... saw it and a few more frames after I jumped back. I didn't know they were so mean and puff up to make themselves look bigger.  They have two kinds of toxins, a common rattlesnake hemo toxin which causes red cell, tissue and organ damage and a neuro toxin which cause paralysis in it's victims. They are Sagebrush green, short and fat but seemed to change color slightly to the surroundings from experience.

I get the hardest time from some of my good non photographer friends because I'm shooting wildflowers here and there so I'll have to show them this one. 

These Mojave Greens (proper name mojave rattlesnake) were discovered in the Antelope Valley, California in the early 70's. Having grown up and living in the western mojave, for a portion of my life we were always told not to play with lizards because snakes chase them.  We caught a lot of lizards but 20 years later a snake chasing lizard crosses my path.  I can't say that the snake was aggressive but it never backed away from, it stood it's ground until I left.  Rattlesnakes have defensive and aggressive strikes, in a defensive strike you may find yourself lucky if it doesn't have the chance to release all of it's venomous toxins.  If provoked it's more likely to release much more or all of it's toxins and strike multiple times.  It was a low angle greeting I will never forget!
  • Still Here 
Kelso Dunes Mojave Nature Preserve California

It's real just placed it into the scene physically while I was there. That gives it the fake look and my bad photoshopping skills at the time helped out the fake look it has too. Took a whole series of it back in 2005. Influenced by Salvadore Dali. The file at RAW looks a little different, if you shoot in flat light, there are no shadows and white balance was cool in the whole scene.  I added contrast to the subject to have it stand out more in the scene rather then just be a part of the scene. The histogram is still in tact all in one single exposure. I'll gladly email a slice of the RAW file for anyone curious enough to inspect it.

In 2007 Outdoor Photographer emailed me and asked for images, they printed all of them as full page except for this one. 3 out of 4 is not bad at all. They probably avoided a good controversy by not printing it by the looks of feed back from all you wonderful viewers on social media.  The was photographed handheld at a shutter speed of 1/45 of a second before lens stabilization was massively introduced in consumer DSLR cameras.  Shooting an image at 1/45 of a second is the grey zone for sharpness in photographs.  I'm very grateful for the editor that found the image to be interesting enough to ask for a copy.
  • A small arch in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California.  This small overlooks the Mojave Desert from the cliffs above the desert floor.  A clearing storm brings soft light to the El Paso Mountain Range in the background.  This was only a little over an hour drive from the Northern Los Angeles area. There are plenty of arches that haven't been photographed yet, so for the curious keep exploring.. .
  • The Other Side

Learn to see in a different way www.ScenicPhotoWorkshops.com 
Here is a view looking west from right under the arch in Joshua Tree.  It resembles something out of a Sci flick if you ask me. 

I was going to light paint all night long here but decided to leave after my first couple of shot here that evening.  I think I spent more time driving here then visiting the place.   Should of stayed since it was so warm in November.  The moon here is overexposed, I like shooting a scene with out the need to follow rules that other photographer think I should follow.  The wide angle lens rendered the moon a lot smaller then it was and I was perfectly okay with that.
  • The Colorado River runs through the Mojave Desert's Topock Gorge at dusk on the California Arizona border.

Shot this on the way back home from the Grand Canyon backpacking trip this past October, 2011. I remember starving for food about an hour before shooting this shot. We stopped in Kingman, AZ at place called the Cracker Barrel, they give you a lot a of food and I was still eating Christina's leftovers! She napped in the car while I shot this one from the road side. Only 5 more hours of driving to get back to Los Angeles that evening.
  • Eye of the Mojave Desert shines it's beam of light on a mojave yucca. This rare occurance only happens a few days each year.

Composing before this light changed was the hardest part of getting this shot. I had to run from this yucca to that joshua tree to the next yucca until I was fast enough to compose a shot before the light had changed. Never really had literally chase the light before shooting at this location! It really brings new meaning to chasing the light. It was like an ant chasing a magnifying glass's beam trying to get burned!! Can't wait for the next rare light occurrence to happen here again! I'll be ready for it!!

The American Deserts still have many secrets we don't all know about!! You won't find this in the guide books!

  • Triple arch and moon in a dusk sky at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada's Mojave Desert

On my last post I mentioned how it was a great morning for finding arches, well here are a few more to add to the series, "The Land of Little Arches". Years ago my parents used to live out in Colorado Springs, CO so I'd have a great time looking at a map and trying to figure out how long I could make the trip getting there, the average amount of time getting there was 3 to 4 days and same thing with the way back so I'd visit some fantastic places of the Southwest & Rocky Mtns in good light and scout out a few others in the harsher hours of the day. Unless I could find some kind of canyon full of shade or canyon light then I'd just be there for hours with out a time limit.

Some of you may wonder how decisions are made on what to photograph. Some photographers use a book or a guide, GPS coordinates. This gives them a little bit of certainty and eliminates some of the risks of taking a horrible photograph and not coming home with anything. Of course no one can control the light and weather but some photographers are good at adapting to it so this increases their certainty of pulling off a great photograph such as the one they want to duplicate or hopefully improve upon and later submit to a contest for some kind of validation or just share it with friends. Is this true or not true?

I love to drive down a road and just look for interesting backdrops such as desert mountains or large rock formations. Especially something I haven't shot over and over again. I might have to spend a little more time being out there exploring but the payoff to me is well worth it. It really helps one's creativity when you are working with something you can't duplicate. I guess you could compare it to visiting restaurants when traveling, do you judge the place by it's exterior or look up the reviews online at home or smart phone, I don't care, if I see a BBQ house that looks like shit I immediately think "I'm going in to find out what it's like". I've had good and bad experiences this way, an eatery known for it's margaritas called the Loop in the town of Manitou Springs, CO. The margaritas were great but I like spicy food so I ordered "The Plate from Hell". Let's just keep it to the plate defeated me but the experiences from the road are part of motivate me to keeping on.

Photographers often fly to Vegas to visit the Crown Jewels of the Southwest, places such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. Collect a few images and be gone. They may see Valley of Fire on the map and think I'll visit sometime and some stop by shoot the Fire Wave, Fire Cave (Windstone Arch), Elephant Rock, and Atlai Rock then check it off the list and say been there done that. Valley of Fire and Lake Mead are so full of photographic opportunities I often found it hard to leave. Even during fun trips to Las Vegas with my friends during the summer I'd find some time sneak off and explore a few canyons here and there. The heat alone was enough to kill me and my water had to be frozen solid before any hikes began. There were many finds in bad light that require more trips into the desert to wait for the good light! As landscape photographers it helps to live in a place where we can be close to beautiful locations we can photograph in minutes away and Las Vegas has no shortage for the icon hunter or the explorer.

See more Valley of Fire images here http://bit.ly/sEKqwZ or take a workshop http://bit.ly/s7yuh6
  • Opium Dreams
Antelope Valley Poppy Fields State Preserve
  • Mysterious Badlands - Mojave Desert.
This is not Red Rock Canyon
  • Emerald Waters II
Colorado River - Mojave Desert

Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFyPB5DQ01M
  • The Haystack
BLM Land - Mojave Desert, California
  • Wild Poppies - Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
  • The Aftermath - Devastation after a fire clears out an ecosystem for a new beginning.  Invasive plants are one of the biggest threats to the Mojave Desert, they create extra fuel for fires that wouldn't normally be there. 
Mojave Nature Preserve, California
  • Melting the Shadows
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
  • Yucca Bloom - Mojave Nature Preserve
  • Mitchell Caverns - Providence Mountains State Park
Mojave Nature Preserve
  • Ignition 
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
  • Cinder Hole
Mojave Desert
  • November Bloom - Mojave Nature Preserve

Just a little bit of rain can bring the desert back to life.  Mojave and Colorado Desert Intersection
  • The Glow of Los Angeles
  • Double Sided Arch

Learn to see in a different way www.ScenicPhotoWorkshops.com
  • Celestial City BW - Red Rock Canyon State Park, California
  • Kelso Dunes Mojave Nature Preserve
  • Red Rock Icing

Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area - Western Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Joshua Tree Cholla Pano
  • Cresote in Twilight - BLM land
  • Time Passing
Rainbow Canyon - Mojave Desert
  • Red Rock Powdered Sugar

Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area - Las Vegas, Nevada

This is a 3 pano stich of Mt. Wilson 3,000ft vertical rock face.  The tiny little patch of trees seen here is called Sherwood Forest by the local climbers and serves as the easiest identification spot along the way.  This is just an extraction of all the beautiful scenery that surrounds this intimite view.  It's hardley noticeable at this resolution but crisp as can be in a large print.
  • Scorpian Flower
Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA
  • Red Volcanic Cinder Dunes
  • Hawaiin Desert  - Mojave Desert

A desert lava field resembling a Hawaiin landscape.
  • Unrisen Moon
Mojave Nature Preserve
  • Gold Trimmed Cliffs
Mojave Desert
  • The Pisgaw Crater
  • Mojave Yucca, Infrared
Mojave Nature Preserve
  • Hoo Doo City
Red Rock Canyon
  • The Red Planet
Valley of Fire State Park Nevada
  • Ancient Skyline
Arizona California Border
  • Striated Rock
Valley of Fire State Park Nevada
  • Emerald Waters
Colorado River - Mojave Desert
  • The Mojave Spine
Mojave Desert, California
  • Empty Sky
Mojave Desert, California
  • Hanging Heads
Mojave Desert - BLM land
  • The Mysterious Mojave 
Mojave Desert, California
  • Into the Canyon - Mojave Desert
Near Las Vegas
  • A Folding Earth
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
  • Where are these dunes? II
A large dune field exists out in a wilderness section of the Mojave Desert.