Belt of Venus over Kelso Dunes

The "Belt of Venus" refers to the sunrise color you can see in the sky about 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset.  It is usually a pink color over blue, and it always appears directly opposite the sun because the blue color is the shadow of the earth.  Astronomer +Philip Plait does a great job explaining this twice-daily phenomenon in his +Bad Astronomy blog on +Slate:
Moon Rise over an Arsenic Lake 

The Belt of Venus can be a great opportunity for photographers to catch sky color on blue sky days, when there will be no clouds to catch the sunrise or sunset color. Be sure and arrive so you have at least 30 minutes to get your camera gear out and set up before the color briefly appears for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remember also to plan for a location and composition where you'll be shooting directly away from where the sun will be on the horizon.   So for example you may go to a sunset location to capture the belt of Venus to the west before sunrise, as the sun approaches the horizon to the east.  Like all sunsets, the red/pink/orange colors in the sky are enhanced by the scattering of light through dust or smog particles in the sky, so you'll see the effect and the color strongest low on the horizon in dry, dusty places or places with some degree of smog (California has both).

This image was captured at 6:39 am, 26 minutes before a 7:05 sunrise in Mojave National Preserve in January, 2009.  I captured three exposures so the darkest one would capture the sky well and the lightest one would capture the foreground well.  There are many ways to merge those results later, HDR being probably the most common, with a simple average being another way to get more realistic results with a little less effort.  Both methods can be accomplished with Photomatix software from HDRsoft, and I describe my basic workflow here:
HDR-Friendly Workflow, Using Adobe Lightroom for Realistic Results

I've place a non-HDR singel exposure next to this in My Mojave Desert album for comparison, so if you click on this photo to see it bigger, you can then navigate to the Non-HDR and other photos in this album using the arrow keys on your keyboard or the arrow icons below the photos. 
#astrophotography   #HDR   #sunrisephotography   #mojavedesert   #SoCal   #landscapephotography  

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, January 2009

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Mojave Layers

Sunset over the Mojave National Preserve, January 2009.
The Mojave National Preserve was formed in 1994, and even after 20 years, relatively few photographers have explored its 1.6 million acres.
See more from the park in my Mojave Desert album here on G+:
#mojavedesert   #sunsetphotography   #desertphotography  

Mojave National Preserve, January 2009.

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Water in the Desert

Unfortunately a lot of the water in the desert is so saturated with minerals that you can't drink it.  This is one of those locations which is so remote, you might not see anyone for days.  If your vehicle breaks down, it's a 35 mile hike to the nearest paved road.

I'll be taking a few trips to the Mojave Desert this year, so I'm starting a Mojave Desert album here on G+:
#mojavedesert   #desert   #landscapephotography  

Water in the desert

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Mojave Desert in Spring

I can't wait for Spring in California, although with the lack of rain we've had this winter, I don't know if we'll see any sights like this on from 2011, where miles and miles of this valley were carpeted in yellow goldfields and orange poppies.  I'll be taking at few trips to the Mojave Desert this year, including one for wildflowers and another for night photography.

Google+ no longer accepts keywords for photos and I can't quickly search by keyword to create an album on G+, so to show you more Mojave Desert photos I'll have to refer you to the set I just created from some of my photos over on Flickr:

Update: I've started to create a Mojave Desert album on G+ through manual uploads:
#MojaveDesert   #desert   #desertphotography  

Mojave Desert, California, Spring 2011

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