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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The McDonald Observatory and Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

 McDonald Observatory and the Milky Way

 Last weekend I traveled to El Paso, Texas to participate in my final art festival of the year. Weather for the festival turned cold, windy, and even icy, but the two days I photographed prior to the festival were great. The weather was warm with little wind and the clouds vanished after sunset for my first stop at the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis. I had driven all day from my home in mostly cloudy conditions but it seemed the farther I drove west the clearer the skies became. My last minute decision to go photograph the observatory paid off. Skies cleared at sunset and a gorgeous Milky Way was clearly visible once all signs of the sun were gone. I was also pleasantly surprised by the red glow coming out of the observatory. I could barely make it out with my eyes but a long exposure made the red very obvious in the photographs.

Guadalupe Reflections #2

 After photographing at the McDonald Observatory, I drove 80 more miles to Van Horn and finally stopped for the day. After shooting a few things in Van Horn the next morning, I drove to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The first thing I did when I arrived was to scout out the salt flats west of the park. I had heard that there was some flooding back in September and I also remember seeing pictures of the mountains reflected in a large lake. Sure enough part of the salt flat was now a very large shallow lake. My plans for the evening were now to come back at sunset.
 Guadalupe Sunset

After driving back to the park, I spent most of the afternoon hiking in McKittrick Canyon. GMNP has a lot of maple trees growing in the canyons and the fall color can be spectacular. Unfortunately, I already knew that I was about two weeks past the peak. Many of the trees had already lost their leaves and the rest were soon to drop. Peak color or not the hike is still very pretty. After the hike it was back to the flooded salt flats. Conditions could not have been better. The winds totally died and a few clouds pinked up at sunset.

 The Light From Within

Before starting my final drive to El Paso I had one more image I wanted to create. Just down the road from the salt flat was some abandoned buildings. I set up the tripod and set the camera for 30 second exposures. This gave me enough time to fire a flash with a colored gel several times during an exposure. I had planned to combine parts of several exposures but decided the light on this single exposure worked just fine.
Sooooooooo...after two pleasant days of photography just how bad was the weather for the art show? Well, the weather changed dramatically on Friday. During the show on Saturday and Sunday it was windy and the temperature never reached 40 degrees. I also knocked some snow and ice off the roof of my tent Sunday morning. That is the first and hopefully the last time I have to deal with that. I did manage to sell a few pieces despite the less than favorable conditions. Overall, I would consider it a successful trip to west Texas.