One of my favorite activities of our annual spring trip to the Big Bend National Park is night sky photography. It is part of our grueling, 5-day schedule. It all begins with the alarm going off at 3:00 AM, heading out at 4:00 in order to arrive at the location by 5:00. The Milky Way is visible to the naked eye due to the low light pollution in the area. We choose our locations during our mid-day scouting trips. Armed with our smart phones, maps and compasses, we usually go to the location to make sure that the foreground objects and the forecasted Milky Way positions are aligned properly. I will describe how to properly plan for a photograph such as this one in the days ahead.
Our first night sky location was Luna’s Jacal which sits at the base of Pena Mountain (the silhouette you see in the background). The jackal was the residence of Gilberto Luna and his family. He was a Mexican pioneer farmer that located to the area. The jackal is an indigenous dwelling suited for the desert environment. The structure is constructed low to the ground. The outer walls are about four feet high and constructed of sandstone or limestone. The roof support is made of forked poles that support the roof structure. The roof is made of ocotillo branches weighed down with earth and stones. The Luna family built the dwelling around the turn of the century. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It had to be restored twice. Gilberto Luna died in 1947 at the age of 109. You can access the National Register document by clicking here.
This image was taken with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III using my Sigma 14mm f/2.8 Lens. The camera was set on Manual mode with the aperture set at f/2.8, shutter speed at 15 seconds and the ISO set at 5000. The inside of Luna’s Jacal was lit with my head lamp. I simply turned it on and left it in the opening. This is a single image processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.
You can access the portfolio for all my trips to Big Bend by clicking here. Please use the section below to post your comments, questions or suggestions.
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