Rio Grande and River Road by Night

The drive from the Guadalupe Mountains to Big Bend is a fantastic journey.  You are looking at least five hours behind the wheel and even more if you stop to take in the sights or make a few images.  If you are a photographer you are going to need a lot more than 5 hours........

I spent most of the day driving, looking and stopping along the way.  I wanted to see the sights.  It was clear but I still enjoy the drive and the view.  I also wanted to stop along the river to do some night photography. 

The Valley between the Sierra Diablo and Delaware Mountains, around the Beach Mountains into Van Horn.  Then across the high desert grasslands south of the Davis Mountains into Valentine and finally into Marfa.  From there you turn south and cross more grasslands then down through valleys to the Rio Grande where you meet the River Road in Presidio.  Turning southeast you follow along the Rio Grande into Big Bend Ranch State Park.  We made the state park mid-late afternoon.  

There we walked Closed Canyon and went to the Big Hill for sunset.  We set up camp in a nearby camp for state park.  Like most places out here-we had it to ourselves.

That put me in a good spot for some night images at a few locations.

I was up early the next morning to dark sky and and a rising Milky Way.  The Big Hill, the tepee rest area and the old Contrabando movie set were my targets.  All of them are regular places I visit in the day and I thought might also work at night.  Luck was with me and I was able to get them all.

I started on the Big Hill and grabbed a few looking toward the Rio Grande canyons.  I was concerned it might be too dark in the canyons on the moonless night but with just a bit of light on ht e foreground it worked great.   Moving to the Contrabando movie set I set up my lights and took one image of the little village, when of all things two other cars showed up with the same idea.  I grabbed my gear and let them have it.  Photographing at night gets exponentially harder with each additional person.  I decided to move back to the tepees and try there.  Luckily I had gotten one shot.

Along the way I stopped for 15 minutes at the hoodoos and got a very nice shot.  I spent the last hour of dark at the tepees and photographing them with light painting.

It was another good morning with dark and mostly clear skies that gave a good Milky Way image at each location.  Each a shot on my list and each one solidly checked off.

I was especially glad to get a shot of the Contrabando movie set as the news is reporting that it is likely to be demolished.  It was never built to last and some of them damaged bad in the flood of 2008.  In any event my chance may be gone.  Glad I stopped when I did.


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