June 18, 2015
I had a nice talk with a ranger named Steve at the Backcountry Office on Wednesday. He deals with people who want to hike into the canyon and gives general advice about trails around the North Rim. I introduced myself and Steve was very interested in the night sky photography. He’s done some himself and is fascinated with clouds, cloud formation and deformation (never knew that happened) so has taken many cloud photos. He does sequences of clouds as they form, move, sometimes drop rain and sometimes just collapse. Steve was at Natural Bridges National Park when they needed something to increase the number of visitors which had fallen below 100,000 a year. The park is in one of the darkest areas of the country. Steve said his house in the park was 45 miles from the nearest town and any kind of substantial artificial light. They applied for and received a Dark Sky Park designation from the International Dark Sky Association, attracting people interested in seeing great night skies. He highly suggested I go there to shoot photos. On a walk later in the day on the Transept Trail between the cabin and the Lodge, I saw these swirling clouds in the west and thought of Steve. The image looked much more dramatic in black and white, so here it is.
If you are tired of another sunset shot, skip this section. Here’s another colorful sunset, this time from about 100 feet from the cabin. My neighbors said you often see the best sunsets from this location and they were right. Four people showed up, snapped some pictures with their phones, then left as the colors on the clouds became more intense. I decided to stay to watch the colors.
I tried another space station fly over shot, this time at the Star Party gathering on the Lodge veranda Wednesday night. I had plotted out the path of the station from a map on the Heavens Above website but ended up being short on exposure. Thinking the station would disappear into the Earth’s shadow sooner, I just did a one minute shot. Probably two minutes would have been better. The green line is a laser that John, one of the amateur astronomers, was using to point out Saturn to visitors.