For some I'm sure this is old hat, but I recently tried my hand at painting with light. I have to thank Tom Gamache and Van Webster, the other members of the team, that made this experience and image possible. Joshua Tree National Park is known for its large number of Joshua trees, a member of the agave family, and the incredible geology found throughout the park. Large, or rather enormous, mounds of monzogranite dominate the landscape in this desert jewel east of Los Angeles, California. The result of magma rising up from deep in the Earth combined with weathering has created a true other-worldly landscape. A mecca for rock climbers and desert lovers, Joshua Tree is an amazing place.
The image above shows both of Joshua Tree's signature elements. A large Joshua tree and a small pile of monzogranite boulders. This particular Joshua tree, like many in the western deserts this year, is blooming, a somewhat unusual sight, especially on the scale at which it is happening this year. The light yellow flowers occur in large clusters at the tip of a branch. Flowering depends highly on the amount and timing of rain, and for Joshua trees, a winter freeze. It is thought that the freeze damages the growing tip of the branch stimulating flowering and resulting in branching.
This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII and a Canon EF 17-40mm lens. The lens focal length was set to 33mm, the ISO to 400, the aperture at f/16. The overall length of the exposure was 52 seconds, but that consisted of a 10 second exposure during which the beam of a large flashlight was played over the Joshua tree. The lens remained open, but was blocked by my hand as the flash-light wielder changed position. That was followed by a 20 second exposure during which the rocks and background were painted with the beam of the flashlight.
Even though it is best done with a team of 2 or 3 people, painting with light, can be a very fun, and creative way of making photographs.