Feed on

Joshua Tree

Tonight was the full moon, and I headed up to Joshua Tree with the intent of photographing it. Things started out a little bad. Then, they got kind of nice, but boy did they ever end on a massive downer that involved a broken car window and no good pictures of the moon at all.

I had planned to rent a nice long lens for this photo session. There’s a store near me, and when I went in last week, they said that they had a 500 mm lens they could rent me. Unfortunately, when I went in this morning to pick it up, they told me the lens was on consignment, and that it didn’t belong to them, so they couldn’t rent it to me. I didn’t have time to go to any other stores, but I hit the road confident that the 300 mm lens I used last night would at least be serviceable.

I got to Joshua Tree around 2:30. That was by design. I didn’t want to have to kill too much time waiting for the moon rise. I designed poorly, because Joshua Tree is an amazing park, and I really wish I had a lot more time to explore and photograph. I’m going to have to go back there sometime and maybe spend a couple of days really exploring and taking my time with my camera.

I did manage to explore a little though, and you can see some of my photos of Joshua Tree here. An observant viewer will notice a few things about those pictures. First, there are no pictures of the moon. Second, there is a picture of a broken car window and glass all over my backseat.

I drove up to some lookout point type place that offers some amazing vistas. It was also really windy though. I mean like literally almost blow me off the hill windy. And cold — oh my god! I had a winter jacket with me just in case it was cold at night, but I was still frozen solid.

Now, last night, I was having trouble with a light wind shaking my camera when it was on the tripod, so I could only imagine what it would do in this wind. I decided I’d have better luck just steadying the camera on a sign post and hand holding it. I assumed that since the moon is a sunlit object that calls for about a 1/125 of a second shutter speed (assuming ISO 100 and F 16), a little camera shake wouldn’t be that noticeable. But, the shake was VERY noticeable. I should have used the tripod and relocated to another area that was less windy. My initial shots were also VERY under-exposed and none of them were all that well exposed. I’m not sure why that is. I didn’t have that problem last night, but with everything combined, I didn’t get a single usable lunar image.

However, since it was so cold up there, I was jumping in and out of my car to change lenses and try to warm up. Somehow, in the midst of all that jumping and warming and changing, I managed to lock my keys in my car. Oh what tremendous fun that was.

I tried using my pocketknife to force the window down — that didn’t work. I tried asking somebody for a hanger (fortunately, there were people up at the vista point). Nobody had one. I tried using somebody’s cell phone to call for help — no signal. Finally, I tried breaking a small back window so that I could reach in and unlock the door.

I tried that a lot, but those tempered glass windows are freakishly resilient. A rock scratched the window a little, but made no progress in breaking it. I tried scoring the window to no effect. One of the guys up there had a sturdy flashlight that he was willing to use to beat the window. There were sparks, but no breakage. Finally, somebody had a hammer which made quick work of the window.

All in all, that may be the most expensive lunar photograph that I never managed to make. I do want to go back to Joshua Tree though. And, I still need to make a nice picture of the moon one of these months.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.