Friday, June 26, 2015

Ancient Volcano Nightscapes

The western side of Big Bend National Park has a volcanic past.  Much of the geology is volcanic in origin and there are several examples of volcanic dikes, cores, and tuff to view.

These areas are neat to explore and photograph anytime, but I think they take on a whole new dimension at night.  The light of the Milky Way shining over ancient volcanic rocks gives the scene a very primordial feeling.

I had had great luck photographing an area of rocks around an old volcanic core in the Fall of 2014 and also back in the Spring of 2014 so I had great hopes for spending another morning or two in the same area.

I wanted to work some different compositions than I had the prior times and was hoping to get nice groupings of boulders, the peak and the Milky Way shining in the sky.

The first morning I went out I had clear sky and I was able to get a great view of the stars with the Milky Way rising over the peak.

As the night wore on I was able to get a little closer to the mountain and work with some rocks in a gully of tuff (tuff is the white rock in these images).  Going wide with my 14mm gave me a great view from just a few feet to the dark sky above the mountain and included the Milky Way arching across the frame.

I stayed in the area trying different things, light painting, and trying to get the perfect image until dawn.

I like the area so much I went back a second night.  This time I found a fair bit of clouds in the sky.  It was harder to see and get the Milky Way so I worked more with light painting the rock formations and walked away at sunrise with the top image here.

I continue to be impressed with this location and we certainly be headed back there in fall to try yet more ways to chase the Milky Way over this ancient volcano.

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