This year I have taken several trips, some more productive than others, and have made some good images. But I have been somewhat delinquent in posting information about these trips and the photographic results. Below are the brief descriptions of the efforts so far this year.
After several weeks of planning, we travelled to Bryce Canyon in western Utah to photograph the total lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we were under 90% cloud cover. So we hurriedly changed our plans and drove back east to the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado looking for clear skies. By the time we finally found a clear location, the moon was high above the horizon and the photos were not impressive. After 4 days and nearly 1700 miles, the lesson learned is that weather is THE primary factor in planning night sky photo trips.
On a much shorter trip, I shot the Supermoon from locations close to home. This time, the weather was much more cooperative.
On another trip to photograph the full moon, I travelled to the Devil’s Backbone formation near Loveland, Colorado. Unfortunately, the area west of the formation is all private land, and photo opportunities are limited.
Dowdy Lake & Nokhu Crags
On this trip, I drove to the Red Feather Lakes area north of Fort Collins to photograph the springtime arc of the Milky Way above Dowdy Lake. Although I usually look for dark skies, this time the light pollution from Fort Collins added some interesting color to the image.
Located just west of the Continental Divide at Cameron Pass, the Nokhu Crags in the Never Summer Mountains provided the foreground for some good Milky Way photos against dark skies.
In early July, Arches National Park has very hot weather and large crowds of visitors from around the country and around the world. Fortunately, the area around Turret Arch and the Windows is more peaceful at night, and I was able to make some good images of the Milky Way.
The area around Kayenta, AZ, contains several interesting rock formations, including Agathla Peak (El Capitan), a large, prominent volcanic plug. The Milky Way arching above this formation added interest to the scene.
San Juan Wildflowers
In late July, I made one of my annual treks to the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado to photograph wildflowers. The timing of this effort is always a gamble, and this year the bloom was later than usual by about two weeks. The heavy snows last winter left many of the Forest Service roads still blocked with snow, but I was able to find some good flowers in Porphyry Basin and near the top of Stony Pass.
I made a brief trip to the Snowy Range in southern Wyoming to photograph the Milky Way above Brooklyn Lake.
Lightning & Night Sky
August is monsoon season along the Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains, and these storms often produce some spectacular lightning shows. One of the bolts struck close enough to my shooting location to chase me indoors, and another storm offered moonlit clouds with lightning inside the cloud and stars above.
|Fort Collins Lightning 190714-02553||fort collins lightning 190813-03636|
The August full moon, known as the Sturgeon Moon, provided good shooting opportunities near home.
We made a brief, relaxing trip to the Wet Mountain Valley and the town of Westcliffe, the only Colorado community certified by the International Dark Sky Association. We drove just outside of Westcliffe to find truly dark skies.
On the drive back to town after shooting the stars, our headlights discovered a person lying motionless in the middle of the dirt road about four miles from town. Our call to 911 resulted in two police vehicles and an ambulance arriving on the scene within minutes. We never did learn the story behind this mystery.
Our next trip took us through six states, over 2000 miles, and included Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Highway, Spearfish Canyon and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. The highlight of the trip was the mountain scenery on the Beartooth Highway along the Montana-Wyoming border.
On the trip through the Spearfish Canyon, we stopped at Roughlock Falls.
Grand Teton National Park
Late September is the traditional time for Autumn color along the Grand Teton range, so I made a brief trip to this iconic location to try my luck. I was able to find some good color...
...but the highlights of the trip were a sky full of pre-dawn stars above the moonlit Grand Teton peaks...
...and the Milky Way soaring above Jackson Lake.
San Juan Mountains Fall Color
The latest trip was to the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado to shoot more fall color. Just like the wildflowers, the timing of fall color is always a gamble. And this year, the change was slightly later than usual, but it was still quite good.
The Milky Way also put on a good show in the dark sky above the reflective surface of Lost Lake.
To see more photos from these trips, please visit the location galleries Dowdy Lake & Crags, Four Corners, San Juan Wildflowers, Snowy Range, Westcliffe, Beartooth Highway, Grand Teton, and San Juan Mountains and the subject galleries Night Sky and Lightning.
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