This weekend, August 11th through the 13th, 2018, is the annual show of lights known as the Perseid Meteor Shower. My husband and I will watch them as we always do. Sometimes I fall asleep before they appear, but I always try to be awake for them. After midnight is the best time.
The National Park Service photographer, Brad Sutton, caught this dreamscape perfectly. The Joshua trees are black against the sky and he managed an exposure that was perfect: the meteor was captured yet the brilliance of the stars and the color of the night wasn’t washed out.
That, my friends, is no easy trick. I know a little about photography, having worked as a darkroom tech during the 1980s. Processing and printing is a digital no-brainer now, but in those days it was a worthy career. During my time in that line of work, I was privileged to handle the work of many fine professional nature photographers, and have retained my appreciation for the art-form.
About the scene portrayed in this image:
From Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge: The Perseids are prolific meteor showers associated with the comet Swift–Tuttle. The Perseids are so called because the point from which they appear to hail (called the radiant) lies in the constellation Perseus.
The other thing of beauty in this wonderful image is the setting, Joshua Tree National Park. It is an alien landscape to my northern eyes. The silhouettes of the Yucca against the clear, star-strewn sky calls to me in some lonely way.
Someday, I will travel to the American Southwest and see this place, and more. Perhaps I will see the Perseids from there. As all new experiences do, the feelings and emotions these places and events inspire will find their way into my work. I have been so privileged to see and touch the alien beauty that is our Planet Earth.
Also, from the Fount of Knowledge: Straddling the border between San Bernardino County and Riverside County, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains traverse the southwest edge of the park.
Looking further into Wikipedia:
In a 2001 paper published in the journal Ecosystems, Joshua trees are one of the species predicted to have their range reduced and shifted by climate change. There is concern that they will be eliminated from Joshua Tree National Park, with ecological research suggesting a high probability that their populations will be reduced by 90% of their current range by the end of the 21st century, thus fundamentally transforming the ecosystem of the park. There is also concern about the ability of the species to migrate to favorable climates due to the extinction of the giant Shasta ground sloth (Nothrotheriops shastensis) 13,000 years ago; ground sloth dung has been found to contain Joshua tree leaves, fruits, and seeds, suggesting that the sloths might have been key to the tree’s dispersal.
Credits and Attributions:
Perseid Meteor Shower; 8-11-15 by Brad Sutton for the National Park Service. Taken in Joshua Tree National Park. © CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Wikipedia contributors, “Perseids,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Perseids&oldid=853424957 (accessed August 9, 2018).
Wikipedia contributors, “Joshua Tree National Park,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joshua_Tree_National_Park&oldid=852008844 (accessed August 9, 2018).
Wikipedia contributors, “Yucca brevifolia,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Yucca_brevifolia&oldid=854060539 (accessed August 9, 2018).