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.
On the Road will continue, but it will be forever Alain’s.
In case you missed this morning’s On the Road, those photos were taken at the same location we see this evening, only those photos were taken during the daytime. Tonight’s photos are night sky photos of the same location! (For more background on the trip, check out the introduction from this morning.) You are in for a treat – these are some of my favorites of Bill’s photos. ~WaterGirl
The area around the trailhead has some nice rock formation that would make for good foregrounds and isn’t one of the more popular locations in the park for astro photography so it wouldn’t be too crowded. The area around the trailhead also has a nice rocks that frame the sunset which I made use of then as well as last year.
Most of us had never shot in a dark location before, so the concepts of shooting foregrounds separately or light (though difficult if not impossible with a group) were still foreign. When I revisited my shots from that visit last year I discovered that I’d shot some photos of the area before dark that I could use for the foreground.
Joshua Tree had been closed for several months due to the pandemic. Once the park had reopened, I asked my wife if she’d like to join me on a trip to the park and she expressed interest. I decided that the Ryan Mountain trailhead would be a good location to revisit since it has a large parking lot for out “base camp” and nearby interesting foregrounds.
I planned to shoot 3 shots: a multirow panorama, a startrail and a recreation of the shot from 3 years ago. I managed to get 2 out of 3; the startrail failed because when I moved the camera to where I wanted to shoot the startrail the lens moved from 16mm to 20mm, so the entire set was out of focus.
While waiting for the startrail (fail) to finish shooting (I shot for a hour and a half), I shot some other shots of the Milky Way from along the Ryan Mountain trail and then moved to the Indian Cave trail where we’d shot 3 years earlier. This time I had some lighting that I could employ to bring out the foregrounds a bit better.
Shooting panoramas in the dark is a pretty difficult task since it’s difficult to make sure you’re properly overlapping the frames. I recently purchased a device (MIOPS Capsule 360) to automate shooting panoramas. You program in the angle, overlap, and lens information on your smartphone and it takes care of the movement and triggering the shutter. I used an L-bracket with a manual pano head to move from one row to the next.
A lone joshua tree along the Ryan Mountain trail points to the Milky Way’s galactic center.
I saw this rather creepy tree and thought it’d make a nice foreground. I lit up the tree and the rocks to the right.
Light from Palm Springs filters over the hills and rocks.
This is the shot from my first visit to Joshua Tree in 2017, the rock in the foreground has burn marks on it suggesting it was used for cooking under, hence the name Indian Cave.
This shot was taken just a few feet away from where the 2017 shot was taken, you can see the charcoal marks on the foreground rock. I wasn’t able to take the shot from the exact place since it was later in the evening and the Milky way was more to the south.