Pic of the Week 8/11/16
“Perseids over Palo Duro Canyon
Date taken: 8/12/15
Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Canyon, TX
There is a very big astronomic event going on this evening into tomorrow (8/12) morning. If you’ve been on social media or pretty much anywhere on the internet you have probably heard about the Perseid meteor shower. This is one of the better showers of the year and typically a very active one. Some sources are estimated up to 150 meteors per hour! So it’s time to pull out those lawn chairs, pack a snack, and drive out to a nice dark sky and watch the heavens put on a show. I will be shooting this year if the skies can remain clear enough. One thing to keep in mind, however is the moon will not set until after 1am (local time). If you’re willing to brave the late hours and mosquitoes, you could be in for a spectacular display. All this planning and thinking about this event got me reminiscing on last year’s show and while the show wasn’t the most impressive I’ve seen the scenery made for a much more interesting final image.
I have tried to photograph the Perseids meteor shower for the past four years and I have only had real success with one of them. My first and second year we were clouded out during the peak although I did capture a once in a lifetime photo a few weeks before the peak back in 2014. During the peak the full moon washed out our skies and only a few meteors could be seen even less recorded. But last year was my best shoot of the meteor shower. I had made plans to photograph the meteor shower at the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon State Park with one of my best friends Jim Livingston.
The plan was to get to the Lighthouse and camp out there all night. We did have to get special permission from the park and a special permit. We brought all the gear we could carry and hike with and decided to shoot the shower from two angles. Jim would stay at the base of the Lighthouse and shoot to the east and I would be at the Lighthouse shooting to the north. If you’re not familiar with the Lighthouse, it is a 300ft tall hoodoo rock formation. It’s an iconic landmark from the “Grand Canyon of Texas”. The lighthouse sits above the canyon floor like a sandstone sentinel guarding over the canyon. To get to the Lighthouse it is a 2.6-mile hike and then a 100ft climb to the floor. Climb up another 75feet and you are at the lighthouse base. This level is not much wider than a single lane road and it gets very dark out there. Needless to say I didn’t move around too much while staying the night up there.
After sunset I positioned my camera to capture the Lighthouse with constellation Perseus in my upper right corner. The hope was to shoot all night without moving the camera. I would then composite in all the meteors of the shot and blend it all into a final image. This was my first real “time stack” composite and I really like using this technique for these kind of events. This is an excellent way to show the whole event instead of a single moment. I combined a total of sixteen images for the final result. I am very excited for this year’s shower and I’m praying the skies stay clear enough for me to see/capture some meteors!