Spending the last few years in the pacific northwest has gotten my senses adjusted to my particular surrounding. It’s cool and damp most of the time here. The plants are soft and well hydrated. they almost look happy, like a fat kid eating cake. A few miles up a desert trail outside Palm Springs, California got me realizing that not all plants live a happy, cake eating life.

On a cold dry morning I left for a hike with my father-in-law and brother-in-law. On a time budget we made a last minute decision to do an unfamiliar 6 mile hike up a trail called magnesia springs. The trail ended up being a lot more fun and involved than the reports said. We started out following a drainage coming down from the mountains. Not really that cool. But after a mile in, the concrete was behind us and a trail began to appear up the canyon. We spent a good portion of our hike on all fours trying not to look down or panic. The three of us did about 6 miles of hike, then climb, hike then climb. The climbing was slow going, but the hiking wasn’t quick either. Since the trail follows a flash flood drainage system up a canyon, its essentially a dried up river bed. It was all soft sand. Aside from the climbing, though, I found that the vegetation along the way was particularly attention grabbing.

It was neat to see the way these plants are designed to be so efficient and protective. They’ve all got the same idea in mind: to grab water and keep predators at bay. Yet they all go about it in such dramatically different fashions. While a thorn bush might be better at keeping animals from eating it being covered head to toe in thistles, a palm branch is perfectly designed to stretch out its arms to catch water and guide it back into itself. The desert in general seems like such a tough environment, so it’s neat to see the way native plants and animals have adapted to live in these seemingly unlivable places.

In my own opinion the plants seem to look best in black and white. I prefer that the shapes and textures be allowed to show through instead of the colors. Although I will say that the desert colors are definitely my favorite. But I really looked forward to bringing a few rolls of black and white to shoot in the desert. A few photographers really got me excited about it. So after getting the scans back from the lab and seeing my shots it’s got me really excited on shooting film in the desert and really wanting to visit more dry places around the western United States.

About Vic Garcia:

Vic is a designer and photographer living with his wife in Portland, Oregon. To know more about his work, please visit his official website.