A couple weekends ago, we went out to Trona Pinnacles to do some astrophotography. Previously, I hadn’t made any serious attempts at night photography or photographing stars. So when Ian Norman of Lonely Speck arranged a meet-up for photographers and enthusiasts, I jumped at the chance to take my shots of the stars.
Trona Pinnacles is about three hours away from Los Angeles and 45 minutes east of the city of Ridgecrest. It’s recognized for its numerous raised spires and, unknowingly to me, has been featured in numerous blockbuster films and TV shows. The weather in the area was intensely hot, reaching highs of 115°F during the day and 90°F at night. It was also windy, so hot air was constantly blowing our faces and we constantly had to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Nevertheless, hundreds of people braved the scorching weather to camp, stargaze, meet other people and, of course, photograph the stars. The sky was clear and conditions were otherwise perfect. It was so clear that it was very easy to see the galactic center of the Milky Way. I brought out my Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 14-24 mm lens and my Sony A7s with a Voigtländer 50mm for close-up shots. I shot for 3 hours in a few different spots and the results were absolutely breathtaking. Over the horizon are city lights that help produce the yellow glow, while some shots had red foregrounds thanks to brake and parking lights from cars. Other people also used various flashlights to light the skies and light paint, creating some beautiful effects.
This coming weekend, I will be looking for a few locations to do some more astrophotography. This weekend will be particularly exciting since it coincides with the Perseids Meteor shower. If the conditions are ideal, it should yield some amazing shots. Stay tuned and comment if you have suggestions for shooting the meteor shower.
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