Milky Way over the Bonsai Tree at Zion

Zion National Park, Utah

September 22, 201718 mm: ISO 6400: f/3.5: 25 secs.

After Toquerville Falls, we headed into Zion National Park to this little hoodoo with a great little tree coming out the top for some milky way photography.  While the stars were out in full force, the milky way was not very visible for whatever reason.

The weirder part of the night was how hard it was to get focus.  Getting focus at night is always a little difficult, but I have never had problems like I did this night.  It was pitch black out and the usual tricks (using a star, distant headlights or even a flashlight) just was not working to get me focused at infinity, and the hoodoo was close enough that infinity focus would not work.  I took a bunch of frames (and by bunch, just a few because it was freezing cold and I did not prepare well being used to the warm Las Vegas weather) trying to capture focus on both the milky way and the hoodoo so I could blend them together.  As you can see, I did not get it accomplished.

We used a really small light source and placed it as far away from the hoodoo as we could  get it.  Even then, on its lowest setting and at least 30 feet away, it was really bright.  I toned it down as best I could in this image.

While not an image I am happy with, this website is not to just share portfolio images, it is about learning and sharing lessons, so the lessons from this shoot:  bring warm clothes when you are going into the mountains, take the time to make sure you nail focus manually if necessary, and bring a really weak light source in case you need less light.

Gear used:

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