Neon Nights at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Star Trails with purple, blue, and orange, Joshua trees

I don’t do it very often but sometimes I get away on a quick trip by myself. I’ll drive to a location to take a photo and then drive back home the same day or night. One summer day I drove to Joshua Tree National Park to try some light painting of Joshua Trees at night. I love this park at night where you can hike or just sit out under the stars and not worry about mosquitos. It is really comfortable with nighttime temperatures being perfect.

I arrived at the park in the early afternoon and got a spot in the Hidden Valley Campground. It is first come first served but since it was midweek I wasn’t worried about finding a site. I stayed in site 44 at the back of the campground and was kind of isolated which is what I wanted.

Upon arrival, I hiked north about half a mile until I found the area I wanted to photograph.

The trees in the Daytime

I memorized the route on the way back to my car so I wouldn’t have any trouble later in the dark. Having to wait a couple of hours I ate a sandwich and sat in the shade and waited for twilight.

I walked out to the location with my pack and tripod. I wanted to take some star trail photos so I also took a chair because the star trail photo I wanted to take took 2 hours.

It was kind of exciting and a little spooky being out there for hours walking around lighting the trees for the photos. Not too far away I could hear a pack of coyotes hunting.

I set up my camera on a ,tripod with an ,intervalometer to take a long exposure at a set interval while I walked around with a ,speed light with gel filters to light the trees with different colors. It took some experimenting to get the right amount of light on the trees. Then back at home the next morning I layered the different exposures in Photoshop to get the final images. To see the photo gear I use click ,here

Neon Nights at Joshua Tree National Park

Although it was a lot of work I did have some fun doing it. I did this technique another time in Anza Borrego State Park(see our Anza Borrego State Park trip report).

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