I took some pictures yesterday (October 26, 2013) as part of a Landscape Photography in Lower Monument Canyon group hike led by Donna Fullerton, and put on by the Colorado National Monument Association. We started at 4pm and the last time I checked, it was 9pm as I was in my vehicle and on my way home. It turned out to be an ideal evening for a hike; sunny and warm in the late afternoon, and not too chilly when the sun went down. I finally got a few fall pictures.
We were treated to a herd of desert bighorns—not just a couple, but more than a dozen. I had never seen that many at one time. Sighting the bighorns kept us in one spot for a long time; taking pictures and being really quiet. My camera didn’t do a good job of capturing them, but I did get proof I saw them! I took several long-distance shots when it was far too dark to get good pictures without a tripod. Shooting in RAW allows for changing the exposure in post-processing, but what I get is really noisy and not much use for anything but my own memories. I guess that has to be good enough. (My reasoning for not taking a tripod was because the information about the hike said it wasn’t necessary. Hereafter, a tripod will always be a necessary item on such an outing.)
When we got to Independence Monument, it was almost dark, and stars were beginning to appear in the sky. While we posted to Facebook or set up our cameras to take night shots, it got dark enough for something I’ve wanted to do for a long time; light painting.
This process requires a strong light shone on whatever you’re hoping to capture—in this case, Independence Monument. The light is shined on the rock just as you might paint it; shining it up and down and all around, touching every part. I got a lot of help from Donna who let me borrow her tripod and helped me figure out what to set exposure and f-stop on. Another hiker, Jeff (I think his name was), gave pointers about focusing on something your camera can’t see to focus on. The first picture below was taken with my camera on Donna’s tripod. The second photograph I took behind her setup with the camera laying on my jacket. The red light in the foreground is the busy light on Donna’s camera. Ideally, that wouldn’t have appeared in the picture, and I could have taken it out, but I like it there. The third shot isn’t of Independence Monument, it is of the night sky just before we headed back down the hill with our headlamps on. For this one, I laid the camera on the jacket, kept the settings that Jeff set for the rock, and opened the shutter for 30 seconds.
How cool are these?!
This hike was so much fun and I learned so much. I hope to be able to do this, or something similar, again. Classes are great and I learn a lot. But, what I gained from “doing” with experienced photographers can’t be beat. I enjoyed the company of eight people of varying levels of expertise—all generous with their knowledge, each with very individual “eyes” for composition, and a love of photography and nature. It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.