Sunday, October 2, 2016

Big Bend- Desert Nightscapes

There is something amazing about nights in Big Bend National Park.  The clear desert air with the dark west Texas sky make for some amazing night skies.  Add in the interesting mountains and landscape it it really is a great place to photograph at night.  

When I am looking for a spot for night images, I need a spot that has something interesting like a mountain, rock, etc that I can use as a foreground.  It is different than what you look for in the daytime.  At night, you really need a good (large) object to add an element.  Flat and small, does not work too well.  Then you need to have an angle of view that matches up to where the Milky Way will be in the sky.

Luckily Big Bend has plenty of mountains and rocks so I can easily pick different spots for different times of the year and match up when the Milky Way will be in the right spot of the sky.

The deserts of Big Bend has an interesting volcanic geologic history with an amazing landscape of of volcanic peaks, cores, rocks, ridges, and pinnacles.  I have several areas I like to visit and on my spring trip, I had the chance to see many of them with clear sky.  The Milky Way rises in the east about 330 in the morning so I could catch it low on the eastern horizon and photograph until daylight turned the sky light.

For the first part of the trip I was in the western side of the park and worked the old volcanic core and tuff found there.  I visited the area on two mornings.  I also worked some nearby volcanic peaks where I was able to capture the arc of the Milky Way over them.

Later in the trip, we made the move over to the north side of the Chisos where there are a great many pinnacles and a balanced rock.  I did go to the rock, which is the  main draw, but also got my best shots of the rocky pinnacles in the valley below it.

Over the week, I was able to get many nice night images from various places around the park and was quite pleased with the trip.  Of course, as I type this in the fall, I am already thinking of when I will next get a chance to visit and photograph the dark sky there again.