Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Spending the Night Staring at the Stars...
This was kind of a last-minute idea. While I was captioning the mud bog photos I was looking in the paper's calender trying to find the proper name of the event and ended up coming across the calender item about the star gazing party at Abilene State Park in Buffalo Gap. I had actually shot one of these parties when I first came to Abilene, but none since. In fact, it had been so long that the last one I shot was done on film. So, this was kind of cool, since now I had a camera that I was confident enough in to shoot with and could make some nice images. I got there a little before the sun had gone down to talk with the members of the Big Country Astronomy Club and get a few shots of them setting up. I kind of knew the shots I wanted for the main photo, something using a long exposure that showed the sky and all the stars.
As the sun started going down the crescent moon was just about to set people started to line up at the telescopes to see the moon, which with these really big telescopes made some beautiful visuals. Star parties are best when the sky is dark, so a new moon or a couple of days after with minimal moonlight are best, so the little bit of time with the moon was just sort of appeasing the folks before the sun totally set. However, it also made for a really nice photo since while I was standing there a dad was lifting up his little girl (above) to look through the telescope.
Now, if I wasn't that interested in the event I probably could have left then. However, the astrogeek in me wanted to see some stars and planets. I actually took astronomy in college and did really well until it got to the physics par, luckily I didn't have to do any physics here or measure the distances between galaxies. It was just looking through the telescopes and shooting photos. And, once it got really dark I pulled out my mini tripod and started shooting some long exposures. It was pretty late by this point and I'd shot quite a few others up to this point. The good thing though was a lot of the people were gone. And when I saw this kid sitting at the telescope for a few minutes I set my camera on the ground and shoot a few of him using thirty second exposures. It got me just what I was looking for, the kid in the foreground with a nice bright sky full of stars in the background (top), the person walking by with the red flashlight that made the red streak was just sort of a bonus.