This is a photo of Skull Rock, which you will find in Joshua Tree National Park. I had been planning a trip to Joshua Tree for a long time, and this spring, I got the opportunity to spend the weekend photographing the Milky Way and what a joy it was. We timed out the trip with a new moon in the night sky; thank you, PhotoPill's, for helping us plan the alignment of the night sky. The average temperature in May in Joshua Tree runs from the mid 80's to the low 50's, which I find perfect for astrophotography.
We started the night at White Tank Campground and took a short hike to photograph Arch Rock, only about an eighth of a mile up the trail and easy to spot; at night, just look for all the headlamps. After shooting at Arch Rock for about an hour, we decided to make our way back out to Park Boulevard and over to Skull Rock, hoping the number of people photographing this popular spot had diminished. To our surprise, only one other photographer was in the area when we arrived.
Since the rock formation is only a few feet off the road, you must have good luck and even better timing to get a long-exposure photograph without headlights. I shot the first couple of exposures at 3200 ISO, f/4 and 30sec, but for this photograph, I jumped the ISO up to 6400 because the winds calmed down, and I didn't have to worry about the plants in the foreground being blurred, and it worked out.
I have only scratched the surface of places and things to photograph in Joshua Tree and look forward to fall and going back but concentrating on star trails this time around with a Joshua Tree in my foreground; wish me luck.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor