Paloverde, Joshua Tree NP

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I was very pleased when several talented shooters offered comments and suggestions of my recently posted B/W shot of Cholla and Manzanita. I think there is a stealth community of Desert Rats who really like shooting desert stuff – not just blooming cacti, but prickly, desolate, tangled desert stuff. So I offer this Paloverde tree portrait for counsel, as I am crazy about these intrepid survivors, which decorate the desert with profuse yellow blooms each spring. The JTNP Paloverdes tend to be especially tortured, making a nice contrast between death and life. But I have yet to take the ultimate Paloverde shot. I shot this in shade deliberately, but took more shots that day of backlit Paloverdes, as the silhouette of twisted trunks and bare sticks appeals to my eye. Many of those, however, look too “hot.” Desert Rats, what say you?

Specific Feedback

I’m seeking to spark a conversation on how to photograph this blooming desert tree.

Technical Details

Have somehow lost the settings; shot in morning shade on tripod probably F11, Nikon Z6II, 24MM.

Critique Template

Use of the template is optional, but it can help spark ideas.

  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
  • Emotional Impact and Mood:
  • Composition:
  • Balance and Visual Weight:
  • Depth and Dimension:
  • Color:
  • Lighting:
  • Processing:
  • Technical:

Not a desert rat, but I’ll put some thoughts together. First, it’s quite striking and reminds me of seaweed clinging to rocks on the ocean’s edge. Often you’ll see seed pods and other structures that mimic the flowers here. It also has that same clinging to life with every bit of strength quality these plants have. Second, I like the abrupt change from ‘flowing’ branches to ‘exploding’ flowers. The colors work well together in the different regions and I think the shade helped emphasize the blue tinge. I played with a little scroll crop to eliminate the large bit of trunk on the top left and I think it works since it preserves enough of the main trunk which has such a nice anchoring presence in that area. Another scroll crop to get rid of some bright branches toward the middle bottom strengthens it further to my eye. Of course, your shot, your call in the end.

Thanks Kristen.

James: Oh this is fine! I can get thoroughly caught up in all the disparate elements and like your comp and capture a lot. Not something that is obviously from the desert which makes it all the better. Really well seen, composed, captured and presented. >=))>

Thanks Bill — gives me some hints for future shooting of Paloverdes. Shade is best, predawn or dusk; probably need more context to show beauty in a desolate setting. My target Paloverde forest has lots of potential.