The park was practically empty when I arrived two hours before sunset. It was my first time in Joshua Tree and I was alone in a rented car, excited to explore the vast desert terrain. I meandered along the curvy road, taking my time searching for interesting things to shoot. Jagged rock formations, interesting clusters of Joshua Trees and other vegetation, and patterns in the desert landscape beckoned to be photographed. But it was not until the sun began dropping behind the horizon that I truly became immersed in the beauty of the landscape.
Apparently, when Mormon settlers first discovered the area, they named the interesting looking plants after the Old Testament prophet Joshua. The trees reminded them of an image of Joshua praying with his hands overhead. So moved after hearing this story, Bono, the lead singer of U2 immediately decided to change the name for their soon-to-be released album – Two Americas – to The Joshua Tree (and of course the rest is history!).
To capture the incredible range of light in the scene, I took multiple images at different exposures (keeping the aperture constant), and then combined them in Photomatix (HDR software). Alternatively, I could have blended images in Photoshop, but for this image the HDR software worked very well.
Minutes after the sun dropped below the horizon and I began my drive out of the park, a pack of coyotes emerged from the shadows in search of food. I turned off my headlights and followed them along the side of the road for some time, honoring their proximity and willingness to let me join them on their nightly run.