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Balanced Rock Sunrise Panorama

One of my all-time favorite hikes in Big Bend National Park is the Grapevine Hills Trail leading to Balanced Rock. While the first three-quarters of a mile is relatively easy, the last quarter-mile requires some skillful boulder-hopping. To avoid any mishaps while hiking in the dark, I brought along my trusty headlamp to light my way.

To catch the night sky and the sunrise, I set my alarm for 4:00 AM, left my room at 4:45 AM, and by 5:45 AM I made it to the location to begin photographing the stunning night sky. The experience of being alone in such a serene environment at that hour was incredible. After completing the night sky photos, I sat on one of the boulders and enjoyed the sounds of nature as I waited for the sun to rise. Once the sun began to peek over the horizon, I had just a few moments to capture the starburst before the scene was awash with light.

On my descent, I encountered at least 50 people making the trek up to the rock. To avoid crowds, I highly recommend going early and enjoying the solitude of the sunrise. It’s a great moment for reflection.

Balanced Rock, Big Bend National Park, Panorama, Panoramic, Starburst, Sunrise
Balanced Rock Sunrise Panorama

Click on the image to enlarge it as it’s best viewed large.

This image was taken with my Sony A7R IV using my Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 Lens set on 16mm. The camera was set on Manual mode with the aperture set at f/11, shutter speed at 1/125th of a second, and ISO set at 100. Due to the intense sun and the dark shadows, I decided to use a three-image, two-stop bracket on each panorama section. I used a tripod and my rail to capture fifteen images which I stitched together using Adobe Lightroom. I then processed the image in Lightroom and completed it in Photoshop using Nik Color Efex Pro.

Click here to see other images like this in my Big Bend gallery. Please post your comments, questions, or suggestions in the section below.

T. Kahler Photography
© 2023 T. Kahler Photography, All Rights Reserved

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