Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shooting with Steve B, Palm Springs Desert Flowers

Today I want to show you just a tiny bit of the life found in the desert. I’ve heard people say that the desert is a barren waste land. Any naturalist will disagree. The flower shots below were all taken within about 100 yards of each other. They are not all that terrific, but I just want to give you a sense of the diversity of life.

Desert plants typically have small features like leaves and flowers to conserve moisture. This openness tends to give the impression that there is nothing there, but life is all around. There are mammals, birds, reptiles, cacti, shrubs, flowers bugs, spiders and all sorts of life.

Unlike my previous videos, this one is short.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

I love shooting in the desert. The light is bold, the colors are varied, the land is rugged and the skies are clear. The shutters speeds are fast allowing good stop motion. Here I just take you along to see some stuff as I explore a wash at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse
This male Casta’s Hummingbird is taking advantage of these flowers. They also will take tiny insects for food.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This female Casta’s Hummingbird has staked out this patch for her own. As I walked into her territory, she met me with a challenge. She also drove off a couple of the manly hummingbirds. Absolutely fearless, but don’t let that attitude scare you, they are the nicest birds on the face of the planet...unless they sense you're after their flowers!

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The yellow on the top of here head is not a field mark but a healthy dose of pollen. Keep checking back to SMU, I have some nice humming bird shots coming soon.

I should mention that this is rattle snake territory. I’ve only seen two rattle snakes in my life and I’d like to see more. You have to really piss them off before they strike, but that doesn't mean I feel safe! You can bet that I was walking very cautiously through this land. I’m a stranger here and I kept a sharp eye out.


Arija said...

spring in the desert is a joy to behold. It seems to be a red salvia type of fower the male Hummingbird goes for. I like the tiny geranium and really all of them. Fancy a Hummingbird chasing you off her patch!
When we go through long grass in summer when the snakes are active, we wear gumboots to the knee with loose thick trousers so the tooth gets stuck in the trouser instead if your leg. At least the rattler gives you some warnung unlike a death adder that one can easily sit on without seeing it.


You have started in the flower business? :)
All are beautiful, but the first is simply wonderful! So are the ones with the hummingbird! They are amzing birds, almost acting like an insect when "standing" still in the air!

Looking forward to see more of them!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are so right Steve, the desert is FULL of things if you just take the time to see it. Another friend of mint was saying the same thing, he was in the Rocky mountains and he would stop to see a flower or a bug and people would pass by without seeing this beautiful part of nature. People can be so blind sometimes.

This is a wonderful series. Thanks Steve.

A New England Life said...

Wonderful video Steve. Loved seeing the hummingbird flying around you and not even scared. Guess she was really hungry. I'm also guessing it was rather chilly out there first thing in the morning.

Looks like you've captured a matallic dandelion ; )

Chris said...

Hi Steve,
It is nice to make people discover that idea about desert can be wrong. Like any other ecosystem, it has his own life and nature style. It is not empty, even if people have a tendency to believe so. Very nice series of pictures! Well done.

Tabib said...

Beautiful Hummingbird and you are very fast to catch this tiny speedster.
Any snake pics to show? ;)

Steve B said...

Hi Arija and Valkyrien. When I was in the desert, I though I had a wild flower book at home. Alas, my copy from when I lived in California has gone missing and I am left clueless as to what I shot.

We nature types see much more than most, Joan. The Rocky Mountains are FULL of wild life. In Colorado, there are five chipmunk species, each found at a different elevation! Most people only see a chipmunk. That is where we come in to bring up awareness of what is out there.

Stay tuned...I have more coming! I even have some BUGS for you Joan.

Hi Sharon. It is sad that we have only one humming bird here. They are very special creatures. I think the little lady in my video wanted to make sure I wasn't going to steal here flowers. Stay tuned, I has some Costa's pictures that I haven't published yet.

Hi Chris. I was only in two desert eco systems when I was out there and I've got enough blog fodder for a month!

Steve B said...

Hi Tabib. There's so much light that you get really fast shutter speeds. It is really a lot of fun!

No, no snake pictures. :( But believe me, I was looking!

Eve said...

Another great trip with Steve B!!
Thanks for bringing us!!
I just love it!

Tammie Lee said...

You have offered a fine example of life brimming over in the desert and a lovely group of shots too. That little Casta is lovely.

Backpacking down a trail once I came upon a rattlesnake coiled up on the trail. With all the weight on my back it was hard to stop myself in time. I suppose I scared the snake as much as myself. It actually came at me, pulling its head back and then lunging. Once was not enough, it did it a second time. I was running behind my friend, he laughed at me. I'll never forget that!

The Early Birder said...

It might have been short (your words) Steve, but very enlightening. Just goes to prove that there is always something of interest whatever the terrain.
Cheers Frank.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous images Steve, the Hummingbird and the flowers really beautiful.

Judith Sparhawk said...

Hi Steve--My name is Judith Sparhawk. I met you at Morongo Preserve while you and I birded and photographed there. I looked up your site the same day, but decided to wait to leave a comment until after you got back. Of course time got away from me, so here I am, late to respond.

I really have enjoyed your wonderful bird shots. It is especially fun seeing your east coast birds that I can't see here. Eiders, for heaven's sake! You really have some beautiful work there--congratulations!

I read your comments above, about not having a desert wildflower book. I would be glad to send you one if you like. I will be at Joshua Tree soon, and they have a nice selection there. Just a thought. I would need your "real" address to ship it, but you could email it to me.

My website is and email is

I enjoyed meeting you, and now seeing some of the photos you got there in the desert. I did see the White throated Sparrow (lifer) and even got some decent pics of it. Did your nesting hummer shots come out at all? The light was pretty bad, but I ended up with a couple that were half-way decent; it took a lot of pp work to get there.

Wishing you blue skies and good light. --Judith

Cindy said...

Hi Steve,
Fun to come along on your shoot. The pics of the flowers are great but i especially like the birds. I still shoot film. But today bought my first DSLR a Nikon D80. I am excited to give it a try next week when i am off from school and am planning a "photo meander" to MA, and NH and possibly to my beloved Maine. You have really beautiful shots always. Thanks for sharing.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Oh good!! I can't wait to see them Steve!! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, such abundance of colour in your photos Steve. And a great hummingbird capture.

Believe it or not, I actually stepped on a rattlesnake in Yosemite as a teenager while backpacking. I slipped on it as if it were a bannana peal and I flew in the air and landing right on top of it. Then i heard the rattle and I bolted like lightening and it took off as fast as it could because it was probably more scared of me than I was of it. It was an exhilerating experience overall though. :)

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