Desert Life

Posted on June 1, 2011 by Tim 5 Comments


The Mojave can be a tricky place to photograph. During months I tend to visit, late spring, clouds are uncommon. The bald sky goes flat with dust and particulate matter, and often jet contrails streak the sky which makes ‘scenic’ photography difficult. Also, the desert light comes and goes harsh very quickly. I did find myself grabbing more flower pictures than I usually do. The hiking meant I had the time to make lots of simple grab shots, even in harsh mid-day light, of subjects needed to fill in holes in my Mojave library. Of course, not being in control of the lighting meant I had to be a little creative once I got home and the images into my computer. But I claim artistic license here. I have seen most of the reptile fauna of the Mojave. Some of the animals I have shot extensively, others have old crapy images, often with uncooperative subjects. Rather than dig out pics, even good ones from years past, I decided to restrict this entry to some of the subjects I just shot last week. I should add that this has been the first time in a few years where my favorite ‘lovely assistant’ Todd Kelley has been able to help animal wrangle. Todd’s patience for the shot is matched only by my own, surprising considering he’s just helping. And, I’ve found few others that match his ability to calm and understand an animal so that it can be photographed in it’s best light. Thanks Todd. Some of these images have special meaning for special people and are dedicated to them. I may, in future blog entries, add desert updates by including material from previous visits. But this week was productive enough to get a good start. So, do as I did last week, play Pink Floyd’s Meddle, grab a glass of fine tequila, and enjoy some of the scenery.


Mariposa lilies are a common springtime bloomer in the Mojave desert.


Harder to catch are zebra-tailed lizards, Callisaurus draconoides. They are quick runners and flee great distances when disturbed, usually in washes. They can be identified by their striped tails curled over their bodies when they run.


The common chuckwalla, Sauromalus ater, is found on rocky talus outcroppings where it can squeeze into crevices and inflate their bodies, wedging themselves in, preventing extraction. Within the preserve they are also fond of the broken lava flows which provide lots of cover. I have seen these lizards climb into creosote bushes to feed off the leaves and flowers.


This juvenile chuckwalla was near fearless of the photographer and taunted him until some better finds were located in the rocks.


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  • Cassandra says:

    Great shots – thanks for sharing. My Mojave “aha” moment came when listening to Peter Gabriel’s Passion and making eye contact with a large coyote. For moments we stood staring at each other until he ran off for the evening’s dinner. How exciting to hear his triumphant howls shortly after. I don’t share this story often as I feel it cheapens the experience.

  • Shirley says:

    I look forward to your updates, stories, photos, and information you provide us who don’t get to travel. You’re always informative, interesting and you get us thinking. Most importantly, is the knowledge you provide. We can tell your heart is in what you do. Keep up the good work.

  • Perry says:

    I loke your work.
    Unfortunately, I am not able to see the photos.
    Tried Chrome, IE8 both to no avail.
    any thoughts?

    I am building a cabin not far from Kelso Dunes ( as the bird flies).
    I also am intriguied by wild life especially that in the desert.

    Have you visited Afton Canyon? (south of Baker just off I15)
    Take care and keep up the “good” work ( the quality is great, but doing it for good is best.)


    • Tim says:

      Perry, thanks for the comments. The photos posted in the blog are embededd as Flash .swf files. It is a meager attempt at controlling image theft. It could be that you have a Flash blocker installed?

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