Shooting Joshua Tree with David Muench

We did Joshua Tree on our final location day. JT is the national park in the Coachella Valley and is about an hour away from Palm Springs, either up 62 through Yucca Valley for the north park entrance or down the 10 Freeway to get to the south entrance at Cottonwood Springs entrance. On the first day we did the Cottonwood entrance.

Cholla Cactus Garden

Our first main stop was the Cholla Cactus Garden. Chollas are fairly large bushes and there’s an area in the park where they spread for half a mile or more. We showed up there at about 5:30 and the evening light had a nice glow.

David likes to work with backlit scenes and it was a nice shot from that direction.


But I saw some chollas in the other direction that took the eye in and that shot worked at least as well. Both were shot at F-14 since I had close foreground elements to keep sharp.


We headed up the park road for several more miles and stopped for another shot location. This one wasn’t on the itinerary so we didn’t have much time. But I found a boulder field that had a Georgia O’Keefe style rock I used for my foreground element. Shot at 16mm to capture the whole scene:


I also got some nice caucus blooms in the evening light:


Sunset Shot

The final stop of the day was further northwest, in the Hidden Valley area. From here there’s a great view of the western mountains and some of the best Joshua Trees in the park. It’s a spot you can get truly iconic images at. And pretty much everyone got a great shot or two.


Joshua Tree: Day Two

On our second day at Joshua we couldn’t do early morning or sunset shots because we needed time to edit our work for the Thursday presentations. So we went up to Joshua by the northwest entrance. The light was flat but we managed to get some nice images anyway.  David was particularly interested in getting some flower shots. The juxtaposition of lush flowers in a desert location is enticing.


Compare the light on this one with the sunset-lit blooms from the day before. I actually prefer this one. But there’s a trick to it. This shot was taken at 11:30, the worst light in the day. But the group had set up a studio situation — putting the cactus in shade then blasting it from the right with light from collapsible reflectors someone brought.

We also discovered a service road just before the Hidden Valley campground with yucca trees in bloom and a boulder-strewn canyon.



3 Comments on “Shooting Joshua Tree with David Muench

  1. Pingback: Photographing Joshua Tree National Park | Travel, Photograph, Experience

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