I-10 dips down from Phoenix into Tucson and then heads out towards New Mexico. The oddity being that to go north to Phoenix you have to take I-10 westbound.
I-8 intersects I-10 south of Phoenix. It is the best way to go if you are coming from San Diego....at least time-wise. Not much on the road there that I remember, but I was traveling with guests and trying to make time. Quartzite could be interesting this time of year just for the acres and acres of retirees in RVs. Be careful outside of Yuma though around Wellton. Big speed trap. Trust me on this one.
As for shooting at night, I guess it depends on what you are interested in shooting. Also when are you coming? THe days are getting longer, and you might just be able to get to to a good vantage point right after the class lets out for some sunset pictures.
For night shooting, you might want to look into doing some street work if that is up your alley. Any place by the UofA is good for that.