Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saguaros, Sunrises and Star Trails

Saguaro at Sunset, McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix, AZ
I just returned from a 3 day trip to Phoenix and was blessed by a gorgeous sunset the first night and beautiful clear skies the next two nights.  Pictures of long exposure light trails, with the stars swirling around the North Star, have always been favorites of mine.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, several times over the past couple years.  I finally succeeded early one morning a couple weeks ago with a star trail over the Potomac River.  However, I couldn't get a long enough exposure before the sun rose.  More importantly, I lacked an interesting foreground.  The Saguaro Cactus and desert night sky of Arizona could solve both of those issues.

Light Trails at McDowell Mountain Park near Phoenix, AZ

I arrived in Phoenix to cloudy skies -- not promising conditions for star trails.  I went to McDowell Mountain Regional Park anyway, if nothing else just to scout out the area.  I arrived just after sunset.  While there I played around with some long exposures, light painting saguaro cacti and finally capturing a 6 minute exposure of the night sky as I drove the car back and forth along the road -- with only the parking lights, no headlights.

More images and light trails after the jump:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Weekend Shooting

Sunrise over the Potomac River

With the long Holiday weekend, I went out a couple mornings for some early morning photo sessions.  I was largely motivated by the Mindful Eye Community Assignment on long exposure night photography.  This assignment required an exposure time of 4 minutes or longer.

The first shot, shown above, was of the Potomac River at Algonkian Regional Park about an hour before sunrise.  The sky was perfectly clear, the river calm, and the sun rising to the east provided a beautiful gradient of color across the sky.

More images after the jump.