Night-photography in the Valley of Fire

Location: Valley of Fire State Park - Moapa Valley, NV

In one door and out the other.

These 'cabins' (above) were built for travelers in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program made in response to the Great Depression under Franklin D Roosevelt as part of the New Deal.

Here we are at Valley of Fire (VOF) State Park in Moapa Valley, NV. It's blue hour (above) and I'm thinking of where to light-paint for the night.

I took this photo (above) during a Supermoon, just as the park rangers stopped by and told us to leave this section of the park because it closes at sunset.. I hate it when parks close at sunset.

toast people

During the day, you can walk through some of the hiking paths inside the park and see many signs of pre-history chiseled into the rock like these petroglyphs above. 

I'm not sure what this one means (above) but here's my interpretation - the toast-people are allies.

round rocks

You'll see some unusual rock formations throughout the park, everything is made of sandstone and can be easily eroded with wind, water, and other forces of nature.

This results in psychedelic swirling colors of red, yellow, orange, black, pink, and white rock. The circular stones (above) were about the size of walnuts, you could see they've been formed over a very long time. 

This looked like a fitting circle for a vanity shot of my Night-Writer. Those colors rock (*ba-dum-tss).

Light-skeletons 'In the House' - 243 second exposure / F 7.1 / ISO 160

Under a bright full moon I used the darkest shadows in and around the house to create some color contrasts with my skeletons in the Cabins.

'Capturing a Light-Fossil' - 547 second exposure / F9 / ISO 160

This is at a spot called 'The Beehives', it's toward an entrance of the park and was being well lit by the Supermoon above. Climbing around on those rocks was fun.

'Bee Yourself' - 547 second exposure / F8 / ISO 160

Of course I couldn't resist putting a Bee on guard of one of the hive-looking rock formations. Interestingly, the exposure time is exactly the same as the previous image.

'Dinosaur Island' - 328 second exposure / F9 / ISO 160

This lonesome rock looked like a good place for my lonesome Light-Fossil.

Same place as the prior two images, the Beehive rocks were my favorite night-spot on this particular trip.

Drag On

Location: Valley of Fire, NV | Settings: F7.1 / ISO 50 / 188 seconds

Print Options

Here's a photo that took a few attempts to wrangle a decent image out of. To draw a dragon is more difficult than I first imagined, having illustrated so many dinosaurs in the past! The toughest feature is of course the wings - which have to be large enough for a beast of this scale take flight.

I used a bare Night-Writer to draw out of the skeleton free-hand and a red gelled spotlight to cast a nice red glow on the landscape from just behind the camera. 

On the images below I used a combination of a white color-tipped NW and a green color-tip for some contrast the later it got past Blue Hour. 

I'm not 100% sure that the image above is my favorite, so I'll include some other takes below and you can decide for yourself which one works best:

dragons

About 12 hours after taking the images above, I tried to capture 5 planets aligning with the Moon in between Mars and Jupiter from our camping spot in Valley of Fire. I hiked to the top of a rock formation and set up a panorama of 9 vertical shots. 

Unfortunately, I missed Mercury and got 4 out of 5 due to cloud coverage or perhaps the awesome hills underneath Planet Venus. Either way, I think it looks pretty amazing with the sunrise just beginning to hit frame left. These planets give us a pretty clear idea of our place within the solar system. We can hope to see these planets align again in 10 years:

Ride the Fire Wave

Location: Valley of Fire, NV / Settings: F6.3, ISO 50, 206 seconds

Had this idea for a little while, so here we are at the Fire Wave - a very similar phenomenon to it's more famous cousin the Wave in AZ - but with snazzy white stripes.

Here we have Shiny-bones casually shredding the gnar with a frontside ride on his pink swallow tail board.

The biggest challenge with shooting this location was the perspective - I really wanted a physically surfable wave. Fire Wave is a 35ft basin with a kidney-shape and a deep end. It took some near light-art along with far-away perspective from a wide angle lens to capture the effect correctly. I felt like I was drawing at a wonky angle and had a lot of trouble getting things to line-up - some brain trickery going on there!

Here is a visual of my vertical camera's perspective from the side:

perspective

I found this little scorpion when we were out at night - he was hiding among the many crevices in and around the layered sandstone. Valley of Fire has a lot of little critters to be careful for - Rattlesnakes, Scorpions, Bats, and Tarantulas to name a few. A good check around where you leave your bag will give you piece of mind (don't leave any pockets open either) - just be sure to do a quick light-up around the area whenever you reach for somewhere you can't see.

scorpion

Here's Astrobandit and I checking out the view after checking out for critters.

fire wave at night

More light-skeletons and printing options can be found in the Gallery below:

Into the Valley of Fire

Location: Valley of Fire, NV / Settings: F7.1, ISO 50, 153 seconds

Recently returned from a road-trip into the heart of the Southwest - I have lots to share over the upcoming weeks! 

Let's start with Elephant Rock in the Valley of Fire, just North of Las Vegas, NV - about an hour by car from the city.

I've wanted to visit this place for a few years but the timing has never been right until this trip - I thought a mouse would compliment this ridiculous natural rock-formation!  

The full moon helped to light the environment from high above so you can get a feel for the rest of the park. I did my best to highlight the shadowed areas with red and blue gelled lights. For the mouse I used my trusty yellow color-tipped Night-Writer.

Here's an overview of this location in relation to the road and last parking lot as you leave the state park - I set up the camera close to my elephant-subject in order to keep the road from view in my main image - even though I really like the way the nearly full moon is lighting it up here.

elephant rock

One thing we did not expect was all the tarantulas crossing the roads on the way there.. I'd heard of friends tell me that there was a time of year this was common in the desert, but have never experienced it myself until this trip! Strange to see large furry spiders crossing the road and then thinking about sleeping in a tent so close to them all. Luckily, we survived.

road

I made sure to pick up and kick my camera bag anytime I left it on the ground for more than a few seconds on account of all the spider-bros. 

Here's a parting shot of my gang of colorful mice bullying the poor elephant rock - all color-tipped Night-Writer creations: I'm experimenting with a new 'pink' color-tip addition.

parting shot

More light-animals and printing options available in the Gallery below: