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Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Trip to Big Bend!

 Dorgan House at Big Bend

 A couple of weeks ago several friends and I went down to the Big Bend area of Texas. Since there is not a whole lot of civilization in the area, it has some of the darkest skies on the planet. It was also during the dark of the moon and the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower.

 Terlingua Cemetery at Night

We divided the trip into different segments since it is such a long drive to get to Big Bend. Our destination was the ghost town of Terlingua which is actually on the far side of Big Bend. Our first night of shooting we stopped at Fort Davis and photographed at the McDonald Observatory. Great clear skies and some of the brightest milky way I have seen. Unfortunately the observatories were completely dark and there wasn't a red glow coming out of them as there was on my previous trip. That red glow sure adds interest to your images.

 Terlingua Cemetery and Perseid Meteors

After breakfast the following day we headed towards Terlingua. After scouting some locations that afternoon we realized the area had a lot of interesting things to be shooting after dark. Despite the scouting, we took off that evening to a site that I had only seen on Google Earth. The shell of the Dorgan House was a 30 minute drive from Terlingua. We found it right before dark and it did not disappoint. I added some LED lights inside and we also light painted the exterior. The resulting image is at the top of the page.

Stone Ruins and Milky Way

After we finished at the Dorgan House, we headed back to Terligua. The old cemetery was our favorite location. Lots of crosses and stone monuments helped keep us busy until 3am. If you look at the large view of each cemetery image you will see some of the many Perseid Meteors that we saw. They were sneaky little dudes. The very biggest and brightest we saw on the trip all managed to avoid the camera lens. A little light painting was done on both the cemetery images.

Terlingua Church #2

The following evening we drove about 20 miles down the road to the Contrabando Movie set which is located next to the Rio Grande on the Texas Mexico border. Six or eight different movies have been filmed there although I haven't heard of any of them. It is an interesting place to take some pictures but the weather that evening didn't really cooperate. It was cloudy and trying to rain. It looked like our clear weather had come to an end. Fortunately, by the time we got back to Terlingua, most of the clouds had cleared. Yahoo! The night wasn't lost.

Old GMC Bus

The stone ruins and the old church were almost completely lighted from the lights in Terlingua which is not really that much of a ghost town. A popular Bar and Grill was not too far away. The only thing added was the light coming from the interior of the church. Several of my LED lights gave it just the right glow.
I had hoped to get permission to photograph the old bus during the night since it was right next to an artist's studio and home. Since I couldn't find the owner, I had to settle for a daytime shot. I like the image I got but still would have liked to have done some light painting on it around 2 in the morning.

Officer's Quarters View

The following day we decided to drive part of the way home and come up with something we could photograph after dark. I decided a stop by Fort McKavett near Menard might be just the thing. It was looking very cloudy near  sunset, but once again it  cleared off and gave us some clear skies and a great view of the milky way and the meteor shower. The fort has numerous buildings which only have some of their stone walls remaining. They made great subjects to combine a little light painting with the ruins and the stars. Overall the trip was a great success.