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.
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.
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T. Kahler Photography
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