Thursday, August 20, 2009

Las Vegas (Desert and Lake Mead)

I've studied tons of photos of deserts, but never actually visited one. Since my body was still on EST, I easily woke up for sunrise which is when the desert temps are quite tolerable. The temp in the rental van said 80 degrees at 6AM, which felt mild. 105 was going be the high.

I headed east of Las Vegas to the Lake Mead Recreation Area for about 20 minutes. That area is part of the vast Mohave Desert. Lake Mead, which was created by Hoover Dam, looked so unnatural to me. Like a rock with a puddle in it.

The water I typically photograph has vegetation up to the waters edge. Instead of trees, grass, weeds, and mud, the desert shore line is pebbles and rocks with some scrubby bushes and an occasional patch of hardy grass.

I loved the palette of colors that the desert offers, every conceivable shade of brown with patches of red and green, plus the blues of the skies and man-made lakes.

Many places along the drive reminded me of pictures from the moon, just dust, gravel and rocks with no vegetation in site.

Flash flooding is apparent too, for deeply eroded ruts are everywhere the water could flow. The ground is so hard and rocky that water doesn't get absorbed but runs off the surface. Lots of warning signs to avoid gorges if rain is forecast.

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