Alien landscapes

October 18, 2011

Clear and colder last night; managed to get some nice photos. I went to Shoshone Point, a few miles east of the GC Village, where Verkamp’s is located. Shoshone Point is not an official visitors’ viewpoint; there is only a small dirt parking lot, and a mostly flat, gated road that leads to the outlook. You have to hike in about a mile, which I did after sunset. Earlier in the day, we had scouted out Shoshone and decided it was a great place for photos. There is a rocky outcrop that extends to a point from which there are really fabulous views. It’s rather narrow, and there is no railing anywhere.

I got there early to see another pass of the space station, on time, as usual, and quite clear. After photographing that, I walked with a camera out to the point. Walking out in the pitch black was “interesting,” but I had a headlamp and a second flashlight. There is an Easter Island-type rock facing north, so I set the camera to take a series of time-lapse photos over 45 minutes.

I retreated to safer ground, where I had the rest of my equipment, and got out my dinner of a turkey sandwich, carrots and delicious peach newtons, hoping no animals would also want dinner. After shooting a few Milky Way photos, I took my equipment out to the point where the first camera was. Walking out was even more interesting with a full backpack and tripod. I carefully set everything down, reset my cameras and waited for the moon to rise.

I’m using a filter on one lens to help balance the exposure between the sky and the dimly lit landscape. Once the moon comes up, I have less than an hour to get some photos before the moonlight is too bright to show both the landscape and stars. I had been getting reflections off the filter and solved the problem by taping a pair of thin gloves around the filter and lens — a high-tech solution (see picture).  I turned the camera towards the moon and got some very eerie, almost alien-looking landscapes with the big monolith of a rock and distant formations lit up.

About 11 pm I finally finished and walked off the point and back to the car. The next morning I got an email from Rene, the artist coordinator, saying they had seen tarantulas migrating across the access road earlier in the week. No sightings last night.

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