Category Archives: Landscape Photography

Waiting For New Life

On my commute to and from work, I drive past this sad little plot of land.
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It can’t be any more than a couple of acres, but I always notice the abandoned structures just rotting away.
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The structures seem to collapse a little more each day and become less recognizable as a once vibrant and useful property.
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Soon, I imagine that nature will reclaim this land as it’s own.
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I often wonder what this place was like during it’s prime.
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Who owned this land, and how was it used?  Why was it abandoned and what became of the owners?
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Spring is just around the corner and soon this land will be overtaken by a field of tall grasses, flowers and wildlife.  This atmosphere of renewal will be a welcome reflection of better things to come for this land.
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Meanwhile, I wanted to spend some time capturing this land at perhaps it’s darkest hour.  I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, thinking that some day I will not remember what it was like.  As with the natural consequence of suburbia, I imagine there will be a gas station or convenience store there before I know it.
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At least now my memories will not fade.
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A Contrast In Altitudes

On a recent visit to Palm Springs California, I spent a day hiking and photographing the local landscape.  In the morning, I started out on the desert floor.  The temperature was already in the 90′s and quickly got hotter.  By the end of that hike, it was well over 100 degrees.  The topography reflected this harsh environment with dry river beds, dusty trails and desert plants struggling to survive.

I did eventually come upon an oasis of sorts, a waterfall and shallow pond with cool water from the mountains above.  I had been to this location before, and knew this would offer some relief from the heat.

After spending several minutes cooling off and enjoying the magnificent views, the arduous task of hiking back was underway.  The second half of this journey rewarded me with wonderful photographic possibilities to the point where I almost forgot about the heat!  I loved the way the light fell on the incredible rock formations lending to such visual interest and shadow play.

Later that afternoon, I took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up into the mountains.  It’s a two and a half mile ride, elevating 8500 feet above the desert floor to pristine wilderness.

Here the temperature was at least 30 degrees cooler, and the topography was much different.  Pine trees replaced the cactus.  Lush grassy plains replaced the dusty desert floor.  The wildlife was abundant with birds and squirrels galore.  It seemed like Spring was in the air.

Photographing this area was a much different experience than what my morning hike produced.  It was fun to experience such a contrast in a short span of time, and I was rewarded with a diverse set of images.

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Tahquitz Canyon: Come as you are, leave different.

Whenever visiting southern California, my family and I love hiking the many  desert nature reserves.  Perhaps one of our favorite hikes is the beautiful and mysterious Tahquitz Canyon.

Tahquitz is located near Palm Springs, California in the San Jacinto mountains.  It is owned by the Agua Caliente tribe of Cahuilla Indians.

The canyon was named after the powerful shaman “Tahquitz”.  Legend has it that he became the guardian spirit of all shamans and gave them the power to do good.  Over time however, Tahquitz began to use his power for selfish reasons and did harm to the Cahuilla people.  They banished him to the canyon where many say, his spirit still resides. Some say he can still be seen in the form of large fireballs in the night sky, rumbling sounds in the mountains and crashing boulders in the canyon.

Tahquitz Canyon was closed to the public in 1969, when it became  ”Shangri-La” to thousands of hippies.   Apparently, the hippies would skinny dip in the rivers, dance naked on the boulders, and party throughout the night.  Unfortunately, all this fun in Utopia created all sorts of mayhem.  The Canyon became trashed with litter and graffiti, until Tahquitz no longer resembled the oasis it once was.

In 1990, after 30 years of closure, the tribal elders decided to re-open the canyon to the public with guided and unguided hikes.

The hike through Tahquitz Canyon is magnificent as you follow a river and  trail through deep narrow passages with steep rocky cliffs all around.  Midway through the hike, you come to a majestic water fall.

Every time we visit Tahquitz Canyon, I think about the amazing history that preceded me.  It feels like walking with our ancestors.  There’s something very moving about being in such a magical and mysterious environment.  If you ever visit the area, I highly recommend hiking the canyon.  I promise, you will not be the same.

 

 

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