First of all, happy Father’s Day to the dads here! Second, welcome to the weekly Photo Gallery! Here, participants of any skill level are welcome to post photos they or their families took the week prior.

Feel free to post up to 10 photos of anything that are safe for work. It is up to you to share stories with your viewers. Rest assured, you don’t have to be as good as Diane Arbus to participate. Photo Gallery is not in any way a photography contest.

I will no longer delete Photo Gallery after one week. Some of the content may be educational for those new to photography. If you have any questions or need some advice, please don’t hesitate to ask! 😃

My sons and I spent three days exploring Joshua Tree National Park last week. It was blistering hot and bone dry. The desert weather tried and failed to stop us from having a great time! Most tourists stayed in their air conditioned cars, so we were almost completely alone, which was nice. We spent the majority of our stay hiking, rock climbing, snapping photos and videos, off-roading, learning about various plants and wildflowers, and chatting, reading books, and picnicking in the shade of large arched rocks. We had fun sharing lenses and color filters—to enhance the contrast in black and white mode. Good times!

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Header photo: Pāua, a highly polished abalone, submitted in the Photo Gallery last week — photo taken by my third son

Joshua Tree, or as Twin #2 put it, “Wouldn’t it be funny if U2's album was renamed Yucca Brevifolia?” — photo taken by Twin #1

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Nikon D600 and Zeiss Distagon T* 28/2 ZF.2 with yellow filter

We climbed on these boulders to the top. The rocks were much too large for the heat to have any effect, so they were cold. It was pleasant to climb — photo taken by my third son

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Nikon D600 and PC Micro-Nikkor 45/2.8 at full swing—for the effect of blurry sides—with yellow filter

I accidentally used the wrong shutter speed, but I like how it turned out. Accidents make great photos! — photo taken by me

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Nikon D810A and AF-S Nikkor 24-70/2.8 with green filter

Speaking of accidents, one of the boys accidentally hit the tripod during a long exposure. The result? This breathtakingly artistic astronomy photo — photo taken by Twin #2

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Nikon D600 and AF-S Nikkor 14-24/2.8 mounted on Manfrotto 057 ballhead attached to Gitzo GT3542 tripod

Did you know the moon reflects the sunlight? Well, yes, obviously. This is what it looks like at night with the white balance (color temperature) set for daylight. These short streaks were caused by airliners — photo taken by my third son

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Nikon D600 and AF-S Nikkor 14-24/2.8 mounted on Manfrotto 057 ballhead attached to Gitzo GT3542 tripod

Fouquieria splendens, more commonly known as Jacob’s Staff. The boys tested the theory by finding some dead branches and using them as hiking poles. They worked surprisingly well. “Thank you, Herr Wandern Pole, you’re quite handy. We need more handy people. May your atoms find their way into people,” Twin #1 said before abandoning his natural hiking pole — photo taken by me

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Nikon D810A and AF-S Nikkor 24-70/2.8 with yellow filter

Our favorite spot in Joshua Tree National Park, the Arch Rock. It amazes us that Mother Nature took over 900 years to sculpt a solid rock into a 9 meter long arch. We walked below the arch twice for luck; once on the behalf of my fiancé, who had to work, and once for the rest of us — photo taken by me

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Nikon D810A and AF-S Nikkor 24-70/2.8 with yellow filter

Cluster of Cylindropuntia bigelovii, more commonly known by its adorable nickname, teddy bear cholla. The white spines are so sharp they can get stuck to your skin by the gentlest touch. As my third son put it, “Pro Tip: Never play a game of Hacky Sack with a cholla ball barefooted”— photo taken by me

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Nikon D810A and AF-S Nikkor 14-24/2.8 and yellow filter via adapter

The temperature reached high 90s in the afternoon. There is no better place to chat, picnic, or read books than in the shade of cold, low hanging arched rocks. It felt like 40ºF in the shade — photo taken by Twin #1

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Nikon D600 and AF-S Nikkor 24-70/2.8 with green filter

My sons, who love gardening, took a great interest in this wildflower, Datura wrightii. It is a nocturnal flower that opens at night and withers at day. It contains dangerous levels of hallucinogenic alkaloids (nitrogenous compounds). Many Native Americans used D. wrightii to induce hallucinations — photo taken by Twin #2

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Nikon D600 and AF-S Nikkor 14-24/2.8 with green filter via adapter

Some additional technical details: The photos were processed in Nikon Capture NX-D and cleaned up and cropped in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

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Let’s conclude this post with a What The Duck comic strip! 😃