Painted Quaking Aspen

The early morning session featured in the Mount Thielsen Stars post was a bit of redemption for what I had considered a poorly executed star shooting session a couple of weeks earlier.  During that earlier session, I did quite a bit of experimentation, which is good, but came back with very little that I considered worthy of sharing.

Twenty-five years at this game and I’m still learning.

I like that.

I was hoping to get some more late night images this weekend.  I was down in California doing some work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  It was trail work in the mountains during the day, but I’d have free time after dinner to get out and shoot the stars some more.  Since we were in the area, I was really looking forward to getting this tree in the foreground.

Instead, it was cloudy and rainy.  Snow had fallen in the area the night before we set up camp.

That made for poor photography options, but made for a memorable trail work weekend.

It was great to see so many people out enjoying the mountains, regardless of the weather.  It was the second weekend in the deer hunting season, although none of the hunters we talked to spotted anything other than does and a few fawn.  In other words, no luck.

There were also plenty of hikers, including a father and his young (7-8 year old?) daughter, out for her first backpack trip.  We talked to them on Saturday, then again on Sunday as they returned to the car, no worse for wear after a rainy and cold night at their back-country campsite.  She was all grins.  There just might be a lifetime of adventure for that young lady.

Anyway, what does any of that have to do with this photo?  Well, I had some time to let it set after giving up on it a couple of weeks back.  That was plenty of time to remove any notions of what I wanted to get out of it, which let me experiment.  Considering it’s the result of a night of experimentation, that was perfect.

Shot a little bit after the moon rose in Fish Lake Moonrise, I turned my attention to the south in the direction of the Milky Way.  There was also a single Quaking Aspen on the hillside which had, luckily enough, already popped to its full autumn color.

The moon lit the ground and I used an LED flashlight to paint the aspen.  Meanwhile the stars and Milky Way did their thing, occasionally masked by cirrus drifting across the sky.

Painted Quaking Aspen

Messy, but quite a bit of fun.

Panamint

I love the colors and textures of this view of the Panamint Valley and distant Panamint Range from the Father Crowley Vista.

But the coolest part about it was that it was only 85F (29C), some 30 degrees cooler than the floor of Death Valley, some 30 miles distant as the crow flies and 4,300′ feet lower in elevation.

Panamint
Panamint

The Panamint Range is the northwestern mountain boundary of Death Valley.

And before anyone thinks I need to straighten the picture, trust me, I don’t.  The Panamint Valley slopes steeply south in this view of the north end of the valley.