Monuments at Night, Arrival

Mars over Mittens, Twilight at Monument Valley
Nov 1, 2005, Monument Valley AZ
Pentax 6×7, Provia 400, 30 sec at f/3.5

I have long been fascinated by the landscapes of the southwest, and in particular the peculiar rock formations found in Monument Valley, a unique area straddling Arizona and Utah.  I am not the only one that finds them intriguing: it is a very popular photographic and film-making target.

When a business trip took me to a conference in Phoenix, I decided to prepend a personal trip to this Navajo Nation Tribal Park to take pictures of the night sky.  My plans were ambitious; I wanted to take wide angle star trail photos featuring the famous buttes, but also, knowing how remote and dark this area would be, to take guided astrophotos of some deep sky targets. 

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Cows and other hazards of astrophotography

I have encountered various unexpected events while photographing the night sky.  Some are spectacular, like the flash of a brilliant meteor exploding in the sky and lighting up the landscape.   Some are startling: the crash of a tree felled by a nocturnal beaver.  Some are annoying: the competitive calling of amorous ducks and their disruption of the mirror lake surface I was trying to photograph. And some are downright dangerous. 

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