Dark Skies Over the High Lonesome

I spent last weekend at the High Lonesome Ranch in the Texas hill country. The weather was clear and the moon was new- perfect conditions for…



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24mm, 25 sec., f/1.8, ISO 6400

The greenish light was from an aerial light near our cabin. The yellowish glow on the horizon was a distant small town or maybe another ranch.

The white streak in the upper left could possibly be a plane, but at 100% I cannot see the usual dot-pattern that results from blinking lights typically seen on planes. It might very well be a meteor, but I was not looking at the sky during the exposure, so I really don’t know.

The white, fuzzy glow (middle right) looks like a galaxy. I’m not sure which one, perhaps Andromeda (M31)? This shot is looking roughly NNE about 2 hours after sunset.



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24mm, 25 sec., f/1.8, ISO 3200

It’s kind of hard to see in this small web-sized pic, but there is a bluish glow on the tree. I inadvertently light-painted it with my LED headlamp.

I set this shot up and hit the shutter, then turned my back to the camera and paced around a bit (while talking to my wife on the cell). All the while I had my headlamp on. I was careful not to look in the direction of the shot, but the light reflected off the ground, then off the tree, and was recorded by the camera. It’s just that sensitive!

U2 in Houston

We went to the U2 concert last night here in Houston. I had heard, but not confimred, that SLR-type cameras would not be allowed. So I took my three year old Fuji F30 pocket camera along.



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These were all shot at ISO 400. I was dealing with shutter speeds around 1/12 second and shooting hand-held. The F30 does not have image stabilization. I took a bunch of photos and several came out fairly sharp. The F30 performed well, as it always does with artifical lighting.

Dark Skies Over Pine Springs

During our recent trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I had an opportunity to photograph dark and clear skies. It is not very often that I get to visit a location that is mostly free of light pollution and have dark, clear skies at the same time.



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The moon was new during our visit to the park, and I was fortunate that on both nights during our trip, the skies cleared from evening thunderstorms after sunset.



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Both shots were taken at 24mm, 30 seconds, f/2.2, and ISO 3200.

Two Views, Two Extremes

It’s amazing, for me at least, to see vast distances and have my brain attempt to judge them and process them. Since I live in the over-crowded, flat coastal plains of SE Texas, I rarely get to see views more than half a mile ahead. Trees, houses, billboards, buildings, etc. combine to obscure just about any view possible.

What’s impressive to me are the distances and elevations between two extremes such as the Salt Flats near Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the mountains themselves.



View of the Guads from the Salt Flats
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The Salt Flats along Highway 62 are about +3640 feet elevation and 9 to 10 miles (straight-line) from Guadalupe Peak.

We stopped at a wide, open place along the highway and walked out onto the flats as we approached the park. I don’t think our minds were able to appreciate or process that we would be standing on the very top of those mountians roughly 24 hours later.



View of the Salt Flats from Guad. Peak
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Guadalupe Peak is +8749 feet above sea level, just over 5110 feet difference from the Salt Flats.

As an aside, this set up is very reminiscent of Badwater in Death Valley. The salty flats of Badwater (at -282 feet) in Death Valley sit between two high mountain ranges, the Panamints and the Blacks. You can visit Badwater and then within a short time drive up to Dante’s Viewpoint near Coffin Peak (in the Black Mtns) at an elevation of +5475 feet.



Death Valley from Dante’s Peak
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Of course Death Valley is much more expansive than the Guadalupe Mountains region, but the distance and elevation differences are similar. Each place is equally impressive to me.