Joshua Tree National Park
I love this weird, quirky desert lined with the oddest, nonuniform trees.
I used to come to Joshua Tree as a kid with the Boy Scouts, and I've always had an incredible time here. Since those trips, the national park has become one of my favorite day trips to take from LA.
There a ton of activities to do here, including rock-climbing and bouldering, as well a number of hikes into the rocks or along trails.
For photographers, you can pick any spot you'd like in the desert. The best advice I can offer is to drive through the entire park from the Joshua Tree Visitor Center (West Entrance Station) over to the entrance at Twenty-Nine Palms (North Entrance Center). Through this drive, you’ll pass some of the best spots in the park and be able to find the shot you're looking for.
Key’s View can be a great location for a nice sunset shot. It overlooks the entire Coachella valley and gives a beautiful perspective of the actual elevation.
On the road to Key’s View you will see a large concentration of Joshua trees. This is also a nice place to wander through during golden hour.
Once you pass through Key’s View you will continue down the loop and see great rock formations at the Hall of Horrors (it isn’t particularly scary) as well as the Ryan Mountain Trail and Sheep Pass Campground. Both the Trail and Campground are incredible for giving contrast for night-time shots when you do not have a full moon!
My favorite place to shoot the sunset here is at Geology Road. The location gives you an open shot without mountains and rock formations to obstruct your view. The concentration of Joshua Trees is decent here, but generally you will find a better concentration closer to the entrances of the park.
Super Blood Moon & Night Photography
Day trips are easy from LA to Joshua Tree, and when you have an occurrence such as a Super Blood Moon you take advantage of it!
Shooting at night in Joshua Tree can be tricky. If you have any cloud cover it will light up like a sunset due to Los Angeles's light pollution. If you can, incorporate this cloud cover into your shot so that it can be used as a different type of perspective. It can even be considered the "Southern Lights"
- Bring warm clothes; it is a desert after all!
- Bring water and a snack if you are going to be shooting into the night
- Get to the park long before you are going to shoot. There can be traffic at the entrance and you need to scout your location!
- High ISO, low aperture, and long exposure for shooting at night, I try and keep my ISO below 6400 as to avoid too much noise
- Unless you want star trails keep your shutter speed 2-10 seconds. Even at 6 second I can still see them
- Use the contrasts to your advantage!
- Canon 5DSr
- Canon 6D
- Canon 24-70mm ƒ2.8 L II
- Canon 70-200mm ƒ2.8 IS II
- Canon 24mm ƒ1.8 II
- MeFoto Tripod
The Joshua Tree National Park Association has been supporting preservation, scientific research and education at Joshua Tree National Park since 1962. They are the National Park's primary non-profit partner, operating four visitor center bookstores as well as helping with educational services.
The National Park service and Joshua tree National Park Association are going to be instrumental in the next couple of decades. The drought that is being caused by climate change in California has lead to many of these trees slowly dying out. Their numbers are dwindling, and it will be challenging for the trees to fully recover. These associations will be the ones to help fix and find a solution for the growing trend in Joshua Tree National Park.