On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
This series was created by Alain Chamot (1971-2020).
A good number of photographers will just drive around country roads to see things that inspire them, I’m not one of those people. A major reason is that to get to the countryside, I have to contend with LA’s notorious traffic. So I tend to do my exploration a bit more virtually, via Google Maps. When I look at an area I’m thinking of driving to, I turn on the photos in Maps and they can sometimes give me 360° views of the area and also other things around that particular area. Looking at Joshua Tree a couple months ago, I saw one photo of a lush green area, that’s not Joshua Tree! It was a bit further to the west and called the Whitewater Preserve. It’s along the Whitewater River that runs from the eastern slopes of Mt. San Gorgonio, by Palm Springs to the Salton Sea.
The Whitewater Preserve covers about 20,000 acres and these photos only depict the area around the ranger’s station and the picnic area. This part of the preserve used to be a family owned trout farm that went out of business in 2006 and the operation was purchased by the Wildlands Conservancy (who administer the preserve) and adapted the trout ponds to the pools and waterfalls that you see in the photos. It really is a stark contrast to Joshua Tree which is only about 30 miles away. The Whitewater Preserve along with the Pioneertown Mountain Preserve, the Mission Creek Preserve and the Big Morongo Preserve are all part of the Sand to Snow National Monument established by a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Obama in 2016.
The ranger station sits beside one of the old trout ponds with a small waterfall on the side. This photo is a composite with the top portion taken with a polarizing filter (which makes for better skies but removes reflections) and the bottom without.
Same view, this time with my IR camera equipped with an IRChrome filter.
They’ve connected the old trout ponds with little creeks and waterfalls with bridges over them.
Same view as above in infrared.
The walls of the Whitewater gorge in this area are an attraction in and of themselves and reflect in the old trout ponds.
Looking towards Mt. San Jacinto to the south.
One of the locals.
Lupines blossoming along the foot of the canyon. One of the interesting things about the IRChrome filter is that while the plants take on a red tone, the blossoms retain their original color.