Joshua Tree at Night

Location: Joshua Tree National Park - Joshua Tree, CA

During this time of year in Joshua Tree the temperatures can drop dramatically at night, the higher elevation (around 2700 ft) certainly adds to this effect. It can be 60 degrees during the day and 30 degrees once the sun goes down, make sure you pack a good jacket and layer-up if you plan to visit. 

For the photograph above 'Stand Tall', I used a new light tool I made especially for taller creations. For scale, the left skeleton is about 6 feet tall and the right one is about nine to ten feet tall. I used an old antenna, an LED and single wire to create an extendable light source I could draw with. Later I wrapped it in clear fishing line for a more diffused look:

Sunrise and sunsets create vibrant transitional colors in the sky, and at night the backdrop of space itself appears bright and unobstructed by city lights in the distance. 

The occasional passing car lights define narrow paths cut through the park, highlighting mounds of giant boulders.

setting up the shootout

Here I am setting up the next shot, I wanted a western shootout look with one character in the foreground and another far off in the background eating lead.

I was hoping to get a bit of that fading sunset color in the shot.

You can get a feel for about how much time went by taking a look at the length of the star trails. The 'Midnight Showdown' scene (below) took 370 seconds:

Later that night we headed to a really cool place called Cactus Moon Retreat, and I drew a cactus and moon in one of my favorite rooms in the property using my newly designed jumbo Night-Writer tips.

cactus moon

Here's a sneak peak at what some new modular (and larger) color-tips look like up close, I plan on making these available soon but need to fix a few minor things about the way they clasp together first.

Here's a short GoPro video I captured while trying to create the images in this post, hopefully it gives you a good idea of what making light-drawings is all about.

We'll finish this post with the 'Devil you Know', made with a red modular tip and a really bright white LED to create some flares over the eyes.

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Mystery Moss

Location: Redwoods, CA | F2.8, ISO 3200, 1/250 second

Let's take a little break from light-painting stuff, it's time to focus on something equally awesome - Moss.

Did you know that certain types of moss (Sphagnum genus) were used in World War I as bandages for wounds? Aside from being readily available, it's because they are super absorbent - moss can carry more than 3 times the amount of liquid that cotton does. Another type of peat moss is used for smoking malt used for the production of Scotch Whiskey, I'll drink to that.

Let's take a closer look:

moss1

Moss can't carry water like most other plants, it depends on water vapor from cool damp environments like the redwood forest. Here it is doing what it does best, soaking up moisture.

Moss has around 12,000 different species, you can find many different varieties in the redwoods - infinitely fascinating!

I'm not sure if this one below is actually moss, it could be a hornwort or perhaps a liverwort. These plants reproduce via spores.

Here's another thing about moss that you may not know (and a little unsettling, considering that people used it as a bandage). It's one of the easiest locations to find tardigrades (or water-bears) - take a piece of moss and dry it out, then add water and search for creatures with an electron microscope (easier said than done). Tardigrades are very strange organisms that can be found just about anywhere, from the arctic, to deep sea, forests, deserts, etc. they are also the first known animal to survive the vacuum of space, we have a lot to learn from these alien-like creatures:

tardigrade

Check out more interesting environments in my Nature Gallery: