Mojave Desert Night Photography Flashback Trip Part II

Friday, September 25, 2015

10:30 a.m. - Breakfast at Katz-N Jammers in Lancaster. A guy parked out front has a comically oversized ball hitch mount on his rear bumper. He tells us it's for towing the Space Shuttle. Desert humor. 

11:30 a.m. - Apparently there are go-kart races going on, but it's so damn hot that we retreat to the air conditioned car. We visit Blackbird Airpark and Joe Davies Heritage Airpark. These adjacent parks are worth a look if you're in the area. They have an SR-71A and an A-12 on display. There's also a one-of-a-kind business jet prototype built by Burt Rutan.

12:30 p.m. - We drive across the desert to Victorville.

Photo by S Walsh

Photo by S Walsh

In Apple Valley, we encounter a car with MOAR downforce than mine.

4:00 p.m. - We arrive at our rental in Yucca Valley, and immediately learn how to operate the evaporative coolers. They work reasonably well.

5:30 p.m. - Dinner at Royal Siam in Joshua Tree. We sit at the same table as last time. I order the same thing. It's good.

7:00 p.m. - We drive out to Wonder Valley, the land of abandoned homesteads. Yeah, if you love forlorn, abandoned shacks, this is the place. Our friend and Joshua Tree resident David Dasinger shows us some good ones.

I started off with this photo of this abandoned camper, furniture, and detritus. This shot is 9 minutes at f/11, ISO 200 with long exposure noise reduction turned on due to the hot weather.

I turned around and walked about 10 feet before I set up this next shot. Two eight minute exposures were combined for 16 minute star trails -- both with noise reduction turned on. The EOS 6D allows you to buffer noise reduction until after your shots are over. The exposures run back-to-back so there's no gaps in the star trails, and then the camera runs noise reduction on both shots. During the 16 minutes that the camera is locked up, I got a snack and setup my next shot.

The fence posts around this abandoned house looked great from a lot of angles. The first shot is a 10 minute exposure, and the second shot is two 10 minute exposures, again with noise reduction on to combat the heat.

We scouted a few more abandoned homesteads, and made a few more photos before driving back to town.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The next day we remained indoors to stay cool because it was over 100º outside. In the evening we stocked up on sandwiches and drinks, and checked out the sunset at Amboy Crater.

We spent a few hours shooting the abandoned Roadrunner's Retreat on Route 66 in Chambless. I shot sixteen 360 night panoramas. As the weather was still almost 90º, I continued to use noise reduction. Each panorama requires 4 shots around, which would fill up the 6D's buffer. After waiting a minute or so, I could take an optional nadir shot. By the time I had my next shot set up, the noise reduction was usually done.

This technique uses more battery life, but really helps keep the long exposure noise down. Shooting in a t-shirt and shorts is nice, but cooler weather sure is easier.

The initial panoramic stitching is done, but I still have many hours of post-processing before the ground is patched and tripod shadows removed. We also spent a little bit of time shooting at Roy's in Amboy, and then drove back to Joshua Tree for some sleep.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The next day we made the 8 hour drive back to the Bay Area. Interstate 5 on the way home is always my least favorite part of the trip. I suppose we have to suffer for our art. I'm sure that hours of fixing the ground on these photos in Photoshop will confirm that theory once again.

For now, here's a 360 panorama with light painting from Roadrunner's Retreat. Click on the image for a larger view and enjoy!