Joshua Tree National Park – Barker Dam Petroglyphs

The Barker Dam, also known as the Big Horn Dam, is a water-storage facility located in Joshua Tree National Park in California. The dam was constructed by early cattlemen, including CO Barker, in 1900. It was raised in 1949 by rancher William F. Keys.

A loop trail goes to the dam and also to a cliff with some very nice petroglyphs.

Feature Image Details

Additional Petroglyph Images

All three images were taken with the same lens at 11mm. They are focus-stacked and/or exposure-bracketed.

Focus-stacking means I took several shots, first focusing on the closest part of the scene, then the middle of the scene, then the distant part of the scene. I blended the images in Photoshop after correcting then first in Lightroom.

The first two images were both focus-stacked and exposure-bracketed to handle the backlight. The third image did not involve exposure bracketing.

Starburst Explanation

It is easy to produce a natural looking starburst without filters by positioning the sun on the edge of an object. The star is caused by light bending around the diaphragm blades of the lens and the edge of an object.

In this case, I positioned the sun right on the edge of the cliff. One can use a tree branch, edge of a building or any other suitable object.

Some lenses produce better starbursts than other. The 11-24 mm lens is 9-blades as is the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens. Both produce an exceptional star. Canon’s 14 MM lens only has 4 blades and produces a relatively poor star.

An even number of diaphragm blades provides that many rays. An odd number provides double.


Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Other Joshua Tree National Park Articles

  1. Joshua Tree National Park – Barker Dam – Autumn Reflections in December
  2. Joshua Tree National Park – Skull Rock – Geminid Meteor Shower
  3. Joshua Tree National Park – Arch Rock – Geminid Meteor Shower

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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