A Frosty JT Morning

4 am.  Saturday morning. Is that my alarm already?  I crawled out of bed and quietly got ready to leave.  Out the door at 4:30.

Part of the fun of photography is leaping out of bed in the middle of the night to get a sunrise shot.  In this case I had a little over an hour drive to get up to Joshua Tree National Park to a favourite spot for sunrise so I had to start early.

I arrived just before 6:00, about an hour before sunrise.  I grabbed my camera gear, tripod and headlamp and set off from the car in the dark to find a location which would be at the right angle to the rising sun.  I spent the next half hour scouting out a good sight and firing off some test shots.  The horizon was starting to show some beautiful color.  Unfortunately the sky was completely clear.  I had been hoping for a few clouds for the sun to reflect off of.

Pre-dawn

Pre-dawn colors were beautiful.

Now it was time to settle in and wait.  Fortunately I had come with warm clothing as the temperature was just above freezing.  I watched as the sky grew lighter and fired off a series of shots just as the sun rose above the horizon.  Sunrise was somewhat less spectacular than I was hoping for but as the saying goes, “you pays your dime and takes your chance”.  One day I will hit the perfect sunrise at this location.  But not today.

Sunrise

Sunrise

With the sun starting to melt the frost off of the plants and ground, I set off for Barker Dam.  With the recent rains I was sure that there would be water in the pond at the dam.  After about a mile hike I was rewarded with the sight of water.  It still had a thin layer of frost on it which proved a challenge for the birds hopping along the surface trying to get a drink.

Brown-eyed Junco

Brown-eyed Junco

Hang on

Hang on

Brown-eyed Junco

Brown-eyed Junco

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

I fired off a few shots of the birds with my 100-400 mm lens then changed lenses to get some reflection shots.  I worked the pond from several different vantage points.  Closer to the dam there was no surface ice at all.

Pond

Frozen Pond

Barker Dam

Barker Dam

As I hiked back out from the dam I stopped at one point to take a few more photos.  As I was packing up my gear again a Western Scrub Jay landed on the ground just a few feet from me.  Maybe he had an interest in cameras!  By the time I had grabbed my camera it had hopped up on a Yucca no more than 6 feet from me.  I managed to fire off a few shots before it flew away.  I literally had a few seconds to change a number of settings on my camera before firing off my shots.  This was certainly an instance where constant practice paid off as I made the camera adjustments without really having to think about it.20160109-_MG_6734-Edit

Joshua Trees

Joshua Trees

As I was driving out of the park I decided to make a little detour up Keys View Road.  Part way up the road, as the elevation increased, I hit snow.  Naturally I had to stop to get a few photos of the desert plants surrounded by snow.

snow

Snow in JTNP

By noon I was on my way back out of the park after a delightful morning.

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