Clunk. Normally a clunk is not that alarming. However when filming at night in an area with 60mph wind gusts, the first thing that comes to your mind, microseconds after “What was that?”, is not printable in polite society. Having never been a member of polite society, I will just omit the entirety of the next 20 seconds of thoughts in my mind. Seeing a smashed lens and a pano head that is bent is not good for your stomach. Or I suppose your bank account. $1800 down the drain in one fell swoop.
At least I’d put away the Zeiss lens a few minutes earlier as the winds shook the stars far too much. Somehow this pre-crash photo was acceptable and this is it. Surprising given the circumstances.
Hope Arch is the name of this fine arch on Navajo land. It is really hard to find and the road such as it is, is heavy sand, impassable to all but 4×4 and even then a 4×4 that may receive tough and destructive frontend damage in the massive ruts. Once I found it, just as night fell, I camped out to wait. Surely these wind gusts will die down. I mean its 4 hours from now.
At 1 am I got out and started to setup. Sand and grit pelted me during this image. The wind would abruptly stop for 30-45 seconds to a gentle breeze and its seemed perhaps the worst was over. It then would suddenly howl with what seemed to be increasingly ferocious abandon. The temperature had been fine without the wind, but when it blew it was bone chilling. After the crash I ended up in my Jimmy 4×4 shivering. I’m not sure if it was the cold or the crash that caused that.
As had often happened on this trip I was forced to flee the clouds of El Nino that covered almost the entire west. I found this spot that was scheduled to be clear but never checked the wind speed.
I have to say I am quite glad I have the Jimmy for this shot as I would have certainly been stuck in sand several times. Enjoy everyone!
Technical: Canon 6D, 50mm f 1.8, 42 images, cropped slightly on left.
Turret Arch. In the Windows area of Arches National Park lies Turret Arch. It’s an odd crawl out to this spot along a rock ledge. For once it would not be instant death to fall from this vantage point. Probably, you would wish for death, as the rocks are quite sharp and it is a 30-40 foot drop from this vantage point.
Tonight I am not alone, which on this trip was a single shooting night. Below me to the right was a woman in her sleeping bag shooting a time lapse of the sky, you can see a portion of the red led light from her camera. Not visible was another shooter that was on a ledge far to my right that had a better view through Turret Arch of the South Window, barely visible in my shot to the left edge of the main Turret Arch window.
Despite the other shooters this is a quiet shoot, temperatures hover in the low 40s with a moderate wind blowing across my whiskered face. I grew the beard for just this reason, cold windy nights are softened more than one would suspect. Even standing knee deep in snow at Grand Teton it was a help.
This shot finished just before astronomical dark ended. As I gathered my gear and picked my way carefully off the arch, the slightest of glows awaited me by the time I reached my car.
It was morning, a beautiful morning in the western US deserts. Where else would you expect to find me?
Please remember I drive over 5000 miles per trip to get 10-15 images to share with you for free. Please let me know you appreciate the images by first liking the page and then a image like or comment. All of these are great fuel for my passion! Thank you as always for doing so.
Technical: Canon 6D, 50mm lens at 1.8, ISO 6400, 42 image panorama in 2 parts, exposure 30 secs.
Dead Horse Point-blank. The normal view of Dead Horse Point, and it’s a beauty, lies way above this view. There’s a reason for that too. The road down to this point is dangerous, mind bogglingly steep and guaranteed to give you white knuckles or worse. The Schafer Canyon Road is listed as a dangerous road and is described thusly:
“This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice.”
The road certainly starts out well, wide and in good condition. Then the wide expanse to the left begins to narrow. This quickly becomes a rock shelf road hugging the side of the cliff face, 1,000s of feet in the air. To make matters worse, the drop is not the least bit gradual. If you glance to the left, the drop will buckle your knees it is so sheer. The road here on the cliff face is so narrow I can’t imagine having to pass another car. Today I’m in luck and don’t have to.
After looping around the cliff face a few times I came to the start of the switchbacks. Here is where the real adventure begins. Hairpin turns with barely enough room to turn before going in the opposite direction. Scant inches separate my tires an unimaginable fate. You simply can’t think about it. Seriously. And look? No way, unless you are stopped.
But the road leads to several points, several points that make it worth the white knuckles and the puckered extremities. This is one, Musselman Arch and Thelma and Louise’s jump point. The jump spot actually wasn’t the Grand Canyon it was about 3-4 miles from this spot.
I loved this view the second I saw it. I wish the Milky Way had been more shifted right but it’s still a decent view in my mind. How about yours?
Please Like the page, the image, share and for Pete’s sake comment! Thanks to all of you for pushing me on with your kind words to do ever more detail and danger.
Technical: 42 images, Canon 6D, 50mm lens at 1.8, ISO 6400, assembled and calibrated in Pixinsight and PS.
Musselman Arch, Canyonland National Park. Roads down in Canyonland, on the White Rim road are tough, jarring both visually and physically. After about 5 miles I came to the Arch itself. Some young people froliced on the span of the arch, tempting the fates (and the posted signs to stay off).
It seems quite comforting down here. The rugged roads, the deserted nature, and the high surrounding walls of the area seem somehow protective.
The arch itself is close to the road, maybe 300 yards away. High puffy clouds accompanied me out to the arch. A light breeze blew down into the canyon under the arch. The weather was even pleasant requiring only a t-shirt, shorts and sandals to make the trek.
Such a relief, winter was loosing its grip, spring was in fact in the air along with the birds careening in the canyon under the arch. I could stay for only a moment to soak it in, then travel had to continue further on, to see what else lay down the rough and twisted road.
That night I would return and sleep under the stars in my trusty vehicle awaiting darkness. At astronomical dark I noticed a zodiacal light that was so bright i thought it a searchlight on top of the cliffs. The camera exploded with the light to the point I’m not sure I can ever make that panorama work. Sad because it was amazing to behold.
The alarm went off at 2:45 to awaken me to take this picture. I staggered out, noticing the attire of the previous afternoon was no longer workable. I re-dressed and headed out to the edge of the cliff a bit unsteady on my feet. A nearby lonesome coyote cried out to me, perhaps warning me of the drop and my sleepiness.
After finishing the panorama I got in my car and headed to my only other shot of the night, Dead Horse Point. More on that to come.
Toroweap. Of course it should be the first image of the year produced. No question. This western end of the Grand Canyon is amazing to behold and staggeringly hard to get to. To say the cliffs here are steep is a huge understatement. The view and the sheer drop virtually bankrupt the English language. No words or images do it justice, even this one.
This is my first attempt of the year so be kind. Others will be better as time goes on. I used several experimental techniques on this years images. Computer driven focusing, more magnifying focal length lens, loooong exposures, and double shot panos are just a few things I played with.
I’ll link some videos later of the exact places I took the two images I got this night. I just started a new Youtube channel Dave Lane’s Milky Way Chronicles and you will find them there.
Check over at Dave Lane’s Milky Way Chronicles for more as i put them up. I also have a couple 15 minutes videos of the last mile of the drive to this spot. Check your tooth fillings before watching it. It was done with a Gopro from the hood of the car and will be up fairly soon.
My first article for Charlie Warren and Amateur Astronomy has appeared in issue number 90. If you have the time give it a read, tells a little bit about why I do this, a tip and a first hand experience with the resulting image.
By the way if you haven’t subscribed to Amateur Astronomy you really should. Excellent source for information, tutorials and plain galactic eye candy all in one publication.
Spotlight. What is that spotlight? Why its the very crescent moon. In this image the moon is so bright it looks like a spotlight on the Milky Way. It’s just a distortion of optics and brightness but it still looks really cool so I left it. I had considered the removing it and placing a separate image over the moon which was in focus and not blown out but heck this looks pretty cool to me.
This is test #2 of what I will be shooting with this summer and considering the moon was up (20% or so) and close, I think I did a decent job.
In the foreground you can see the other direction from the Star farm. Here both of my observatories whirl in the background collecting photons that have traveled for trillions of miles only to end up here collected on the camera detectors.
Also you can see the bench I sat on for the previous image so you can get your perspective. If you haven’t see tne other image check it out.
Some of you will look at the Astrovan and say what in the world is that weird glowing that mimics the crescent moon and Milky Way?
Well its actually a spray painted (and partial glow in the dark) mural by one of my astrophotography students, now on the Hubble Heritage team, who is the preeminent astro spray painter of her generation. Miss Sofia Porter smile emoticon
Please comment one way or the other on anything you liked or didn’t like in the image! I work for comment tips smile emoticon
I just have one other thing to add. It’s baaaaaaccccccckkkkkkkk!!!! Damn I’m excited!
Technical Canon 6D 25 images, 50mm f1.8 ISO 5000 5×5 grid cropped on top and left side (to remove KC light pollution)
The Star Farm. Welcome to the Dark Star Farm. This is where my observatories sit. Beneath these skies. I really need to do more deep space images as I have tons of data from here.
But this is what it looks like in a very simple panorama, that really was a test for the upcoming year. I have to say that even I was surprised how much the nebulas popped off the page. There is so much in this photo so many great photographic objects.
It’s nice to have an oasis where you can go and contemplate the stars. Sit on a porch and watch the night sky unfold. This particular night (last week) had a quite gusty breeze and temperatures hovered in the low 30’s. But the new carbon fiber tripod laughed at the wind and held rock steady.
Sitting on a bench waiting as the time for the 25 images clicked off, I saw a meteor, that was quite bright streak through the sky. I immediately looked to see where the camera was at that moment and exclaimed “Got ya”.
Looked way brighter in person but sometimes this is all you get in an image.
Please like the page and comment with your thoughts on the image.
Technical: Canon 6D 50mm lens, 25 images f2.0 ISO 4000