Pecos River Nightscape

In late March I made my way west to Big Bend National Park.  In order to break up the ten hour drive, I tend to leave on a Friday afternoon and drive out to Big Spring.  From there, I can get an early start and be in the park before lunch.  

It also gives me an opportunity to photograph some of the country out west of Odessa like Monahans Sand Hills, Marathon and the Pecos River.

The Pecos River is a magical line that I always look forward to crossing.  In some ways it is a river of mythic proportions.  It is the beginning of the mountain country and you could say it is where west Texas begins.  

Now here in the middle of the Permian Basin, the river is small by any standard.  About six feet across and less than a foot deep. Still there is something magical about it.

As usual for me, I was up and gone from Big Spring about 4 AM and as I drove I noticed the Milky Way had risen in the night sky.  I crossed the Pecos about 6 AM and stopped for a photograph.  I walked down to the waters edge right by the road bridge (so I stayed on public property) and set up my tripod.  

The river sparked under the night sky.  The Milky Way stretched from the southern sky.  Venus hung low in the sky.  Everything you could want in night photograph.

I used my 14mm lens and made a series of 30 second exposures of the sky.  At 14mm you can do a 30 second exposure and get sharp stars.  Go longer than about 32 seconds and they will start to form small trails.

I tried a few images where I light painted along the river but when reviewing them I found the ones sans light painting to be better and more natural.

After just 20 minutes the Milky Way began to fade as the day approached.  I packed up my gear with a handful of images and knew it was a good start to my Big Bend trip.  

Note, I have started a new Nightscape gallery on my website that will host my night portfolio of images.  You can check it out at:

Nightscape Gallery


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