Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park

I love being based in Phoenix. While there’s not a massive amount of things to do in the city itself, it’s surrounded by really cool locations all within about a 4-5 hour drive.  One of those places is Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go back and shoot under the stars for a while now.  So, while here in Phoenix, I’ve been checking the weather and the moon cycle for the past week waiting for a dark night with clear skies.  As soon as a clear night came, I jumped at the chance to make the 3 hour drive to the park to shoot the stars.

Testing the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens

Another one of the reasons I wanted to make the run to Joshua Tree was because I got a new lens.  I picked up the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens which is a bit of a specialty lens for star photography.  It’s manual aperture and manual focus, but at an aperture of f/2.8 it’s great for star photography.  And, at only $290 it’s not a heavy expense either.

Overall, I’m really happy with the lens. It’s sharp and crisp, and from a technical standpoint I haven’t noticed any major issues of vignetting of chromatic aberration.  I’m very pleased. Although, I do want to use it a few more times before I come to any conclusions.

Joshua Tree Star Photography

Star Photography

I feel like star photography is one of the skills where I still have a lot of growing to do.  So, I love heading out and shooting the stars because it’s always a learning experience.  On this trip to Joshua Tree, I really focused on putting myself in the frame as often as I could.  So, I set my camera up on an intervolemeter and raced around to different parts of the image to capture myself in the scene.  I’m so incredibly happy with how they turned out.  Especially this first photo.  I shot it on December 26th, and I think it’s my favourite photo of 2016.

Joshua Tree Star Photography

My favourite photo of 2016.

Joshua Tree Star Photography

My first composition of Arch Rock.

Joshua Tree Star Photography

The milky way was poking out a bit.

Joshua Tree Star Photography

A 32 minute exposure of a Joshua Tree.

What’s Next

I’ve got a lot of new gear coming, so look for some reviews as well as some new vlogs.  I’m only in the Phoenix area for a week longer, and I have a few more areas I want to explore. Then, I’m off to Colombia for 2 weeks before heading back to Europe.  After a couple weeks of catch up over the holidays, it’s about to get busy again.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Waw Really good topic. very nice photography. I think sky is the place where you can spend some quality time to look at. It thrills me a lot that how big the universe is.

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  2. Oh my God So many Stars! Amazing photography. Very fantastic video too. I have to spend more time to watch the sky I think. Your photography makes me realized it.:)

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