I had been planning a trip to the US from the UK for quite a while with the main intention of shooting Infrared, but the question was ‘where shall I go?’ I ended up trying to decide between two different trips. One was to head north from Phoenix and take in the Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce and Monument Valley. The alternative was to still fly into Phoenix but head west and north taking in Joshua Tree, King’s Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. I was not to be disappointed in my choice.
My main workhorse was a Canon 70D with 720nm filter and all the images that you see here were shot on this camera. I also took with me a Canon G12 fitted with a 590nm filter but this camera started misbehaving shortly after my arrival in Joshua Tree. I also took with me a Canon EOS M (720nm) as a spare but this was not used. Lenses for the 70D were a Sigma 12-24mm Mk1 (not the Mk II, which has a hotspot), a Canon EFS17-85mm and a Samyang / Rokinon 8mm fisheye. The 8mm is a fantastic lens considering its price but, as with all fisheyes, should be used sparingly as the barrel distortion can get quite tedious.
On arrival in Phoenix I stayed at a motel next to Phoenix’s Goodyear Airport where I had arranged to photograph an old DC-7C piston-engined airliner before departing for Joshua Tree. I arrived in JT in some pleasantly hot conditions a few days before the real heatwave hit when temperatures in Phoenix hit over 50 degrees Celsius.
My first day in Joshua Tree felt as if I had just landed on an alien planet; it was stunningly beautiful and, in infrared, it was to prove even more beautiful – and there was oodles of infrared light around.
One of the images that I wanted to shoot was an old rusting car that I knew of, so I made my way to where it was located. A few yards away was another car with bushes growing around it. It would have been tempting to sit in the very decayed driver’s seat and made ‘vroom-vroom’ noises, but it was already occupied by a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake who was insisting on squatters’ rights. I discovered that these snakes actually stink of excrement which they cover themselves with to deter predators and attract a mate. This knowledge came in very handy when, the next day, I was walking through some scrub area and came across the same odor.
Leaving JT after four days took me to King’s Canyon and Sequoia. Photography in these parks can be awkward because there are just so many trees at close quarters but there are still plenty of opportunities.
Then it was on to what, in my mind, is the king of the US National Parks – Yosemite. It is nigh on impossible to take a bad photograph in Yosemite but this year, with the spring melt flooding many of the meadows of the valley floor the photography was superb. Reflections abounded and the waterfalls were in full flow.
A tip for you should you go to Yosemite; there are four ways to get around the valley – three are good and one is seriously bad. The good ways are on foot, by shuttle bus or by bicycle. Trust me when I say the horrendous way is by car. Far and away the best way is by bicycle. Find a parking spot (if you can), keep it for the duration of your stay and cycle.
From Yosemite I drove to Jamestown to shoot the preserved steam railway. The guys there were extremely helpful and I got some very nice images.