My love of night photography is pretty well known. So when David, a real beginner to photography, started shooting at night I was thrilled. A partner for midnight treks (safety in numbers). Someone who could understand the thrill of even spotting the Milky Way, to know that to photograph it would be even better. . . I have had only one chance to shoot with David. His progress has been exceptional.
David sent me this note with his images. "Last week I went to the Paria Plateau and visited Wire Pass, Buckskin Canyon and White Pocket. The Milky Way shots were taken from 3:00am till about 5:30am when I started to run out of dark. The hike into Wire Pass was about 25 minutes and the hike into White Pocket was about 15 minutes. While taking the White Pocket images I heard two different owls hoot several times and a group of coyotes howl. It was an “enlightening” experience. All Milky Way images were taken with a Cannon 7D, Rokinon 14mm focused at infinity, f2.8, ISO 4800K (individually adjusted during post processing in Lightroom). I used a small flashlight to light paint the foreground. At Wire Pass I also put a small lantern into the entrance of the slot canyon."
I appreciate David's willingness to share. He wrote a much longer and helpful note which I am including here for those who are interested in this kind of photography. " The light painting for White Pocket Milky Way images was much easier/better than the Wire Pass images. One reason is that I learned a few things from the Wire Pass experience, as well as all my experiences before. Applied artificial light (light painting) results have much to do with the distance of the foreground being painted. The physics is that light disperses by the inverse of the square law (1/r squared with r being distance). A simple example is if light travels twice as far it will have 1/4th the intensity (1/2 squared is ¼). So I need to apply light to objects which are further away for a much longer period of time and objects which are close only need a quick dab of light. At Wire Pass the foreground distance changes radically. I used a lantern inside the entrance of the slot canyon to try and make “an inviting glow”. I needed something to dampen the lantern light I was using. A flashlight with less intensity is a good idea because there is generally plenty of time to paint the foreground during a 25 second exposure. Also Buckskin Canyon would be a much better slot canyon for this. But it has an added 1 mile hike through Wire Pass slot canyon. At 3:00am I did not have time and there is a somewhat dangerous (if I am by myself at 3:00am) spot which requires a bit of scrambling up a boulder chocked section of slot canyon. I am finding that sandstone takes light painting much better than vegetation. One of the challenges at White Pocket is the white sandstone. Even if it is a fair distance away it reflects much more light. I believe this is called albedo. This complicates matters when white and red rocks are mixed. The new moon in April is the 18th with the Milky Way rising at about midnight. The new moon in May is the 17th with the Milky Way rising at about 10:30pm. The weather should be perfect then." I cannot make April but May is a possibility . . . Thank you for sharing, David.