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Joshua Tree National Park

The Guardian of Forever
We love going to the high desert in California, usually out to Joshua Tree National Park. We rented a house in Yucca Valley, not far from the Park entrance, through VRBO.com in late December so we could make home-cooked meals in the evenings.

In the evenings, I would drive out to Joshua Tree National Park and take night sky photos. It was a full moon, which blots out the stars, and the temperatures dropped to freezing, but this didn't deter me. I'd have the place to myself while everyone else huddled around campfires.

If Joshua Tree is otherworldly during the day, you should see it in the evening. Eerie, beautiful, strange, and mysterious, the desert reveals a little more of its enchanting qualities through long exposure photography, and through light painting. Stars sparkle, and the desert is even quieter than usual. And that's when I like to venture out with my camera.

Long exposure photography is slowing the shutter, keeping it open for many seconds or even minutes. Or more.

And light painting is a photographic technique in which one moves a light source while keeping the shutter open for longer periods of time.

This was taken out at Arch Rock on Friday, 28 December. Often, night photographers lament the full moon, which blots out the stars from the night sky. I decided I'd embrace it, give it a big hug, and make it part of the photo. I light painted the arch using a powerful flashlight and a headlamp set to red.

Winter Stone and Tree
The desert is a fantastic place, peaceful and quiet. And if you like these qualities about the desert, just think what it's like at night. You feel like you have the world to yourself. And if you focus, you can actually notice the movement of the stars. Magic!!!

This is Joshua Tree National Park in the high desert in California, not far from Palm Springs. You can stay in various hotels, camp, or rent a house. Any way you want to do it, it's pretty great.