Light Painting at Night in Joshua Tree: M-Class Planet (Because February is Joshua Tree Month Here at Ken Lee Photography!)

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M-Class Planet

That’s right. Continuing with February Joshua Tree Month.  Because I can.

What’s going on here?  What’s with the funny blue mist at the bottom?  Or the rings around the stone?  And what’s with the “Star Trek” titles?

Sci-Fi Titles:  Last one first.  Joshua Tree is otherworldly.  Feels like an alien landscape.  And definitely when you see stones like this, jutting out of the earth.  Wow!  And it also felt like Alfa 177.

You see, Alfa 177 is an insanely geeky reference to a Star Trek episode called “The Enemy Within”, in which a transporter malfunction on the U.S.S. Enterprise trapped Lt. Sulu’s landing party on the surface of Class M planet Alfa 177 overnight during freezing cold that left some suffering severe frostbite. While I didn’t have a phaser to heat rocks, I also didn’t have to sleep overnight during -120 Celsius temperatures. And I didn’t get split into two entities, one good and one bad, so it was all good. And to add to the sci-fi vibe, much of these photos were edited while listening to Brian Eno’s “On Land”, “Apollo”, and “Another Green World” to continue how I felt to be outside at night taking these photos.

Funny Blue Mist:  Yeah, what’s that about?  It’s El Wire.

El Wire?

Yeah, El Wire.  This is not Spanish for wire, no it isn’t.  It’s short for electroluminescent wire.  El wire is a copper wire coated in a phosphor, you see, and when you add juice from batteries, voila, it starts to glow!  And in different colors!  If you don’t get one for “light painting”, you could go to a rave or tie it around as part of a costume!!  Oh, the fun!  And this stuff is easily available online, including  And it’s cheap. Cheap.  Fun. Artistic.  Whaddaya waitin’ for?

So I took this El Wire and wave it around the base of the stone, walking around it several times.  Kept me nice and warm since it was freezing out.

Rings Around The Stone:  You can see three red rings around the stone, yes you can.  These are from my Energizer headlamp.  I set it to the red light setting, held it up high, and walked around the stone three times!  Wheeee!!  Why three?  Uh, why not?  For representing past, present, and future?

Light Painting:  I used an absurdly bright flashlight, a Dorcy, “light painting” the rock and tree from probably about 25 feet away, from the left side.  I tried to imitate the lovely way the full moon was falling on the rock so it would look very natural. The Dorcy is almost like holding a car headlight in your hand.  Whazaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!  Fun!!  This was a 199-second exposure.  Next week, we’ll feature an longer exposure with a different example of “light painting”, one that’s rather extraterrestrial in nature!!!!!

All this fun activity took 199 seconds.  If you’re bad at math, that’s three minutes and 19 seconds.  And it went by quickly!!!

So as you can tell, this month, we’re gonna be featuring photos of Joshua Tree.  But not just any photos.  Here, we’re crazy about long exposure photos.  And night sky photos.  And “light painting”.  And so this month, we’re going to feature photos of Joshua Tree that have all of this!!!

You can tell I just love this stuff, can’t you?  😀

Title: M- Class Planet
Info: Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, Feisol tripod. Exposure time 199 seconds at f/11, ISO 200. Combination of natural lighting from the full moon and light painting with a flashlight, a red headlamp held high, and blue electroluminescent wire.
Photographer: Ken Lee
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA.




2 thoughts on “Light Painting at Night in Joshua Tree: M-Class Planet (Because February is Joshua Tree Month Here at Ken Lee Photography!)

  1. Nice photo! As for The Enemy Within, I do remember that episode for several reasons: 1. It provided the quintessential example of William Shatner’s bad acting: “I WANNA LIVE!!!” 2. Good Kirk would never have gotten all the space tail that Evil Kirk would have. 3. That animal they beamed up was hideous looking. 4. I never understood why if the transporter was malfunctioning, why they didn’t just send down a shuttlecraft to pick up the freezing landing party. Who’s the insane geek now? 🙂

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