Ancient Light and Ancient Fire

The ancient light of the galaxy over the ancient fire of a volcano.  Big Bend an incredible place.  Easily one of the five best national parks.  Seriously, it's that good.  Two of the many great things about the park are the dark skies and the geology.  

Put them together and you have the opportunity to do a nightscape image of the Milky Way over amazing geological features.

The west side of Big Bend had a very volcanic past.  There are lava flows, dikes, cores, and tuff to see and explore.  One of my favorite areas is the almost lunar landscape around Cerro Castellan an old volcanic core where tuff and volcanic rocks create a fantastic setting.

I knew photographing the area around the mountain would give me some great rocks and the almost white colored tuff.  I wanted to add in the Milky Way and really give it a different look.  I had photographed the area at night the prior March and was glad to have a chance to do so again.  This time I focused on the area facing west.

A smaller, but well defined, peak was there with tuff and ribbons of rock running up it's side.

I set up my cameras and went to work.

Because of the closeness of the rocks and peak, I went with the 14mm lens on the 6D and the 8mm fisheye on the crop sensor NEX6.  This gave me two very wide views which let me get the great rocky foreground as well as the Milky Way in the sky. 

The dark sky of Big Bend makes it the perfect place to photograph the Milky Way.  There are very few lights anywhere near here and the stars truly shine in the night sky.

An amazing thing about modern digital cameras is their ability to pick up light and detail even in this west Texas dark.  I was able to do images were the only light source was the stars themselves and get an image with just natural "light".  See the image to the right.

I also did some light painting of the foreground rocks to give it a different look.    I moved a few different times.  Never very far.  Sometimes just 6 feet as each ribbon of rock was different.

I spent a couple of hours there on the side of the ancient volcano until the Milky Way began to set behind the peak.  Then I packed up and called it a night and headed back to camp.


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