Goblins Beneath the Milky Way

Remotely situated in the middle of nowhere, Goblin Valley State Park is miles away from any light pollution. I was in the area during a recent trip through Utah, and thought it would be a great place to capture a shot of the Milky Way on a moonless night.

I had finished shooting sunset, so I hiked back to my truck (2006 Nissan Pathfinder LE with failing air conditioning and worn tie rods) and had dinner as night fell. By the time I re-assembled my gear and donned my headlamp, the Milky Way was in full view above me.

I hiked back down into the valley and back to a group of hoodoos that I had scouted earlier to use as my foreground. I took my time positioning my camera and tripod, trying to compose a shot with the Milky Way between two prominent hoodoos. Then, I took several exposures of the stars at different settings, trying to find the best possible combination of brightness and sharpness. Next, I changed my camera settings to focus on shooting the hoodoos directly before me. I spent about an hour taking photos of the hoodoos while painting them with light from my headlamp. During one exposure, a car drove through the parking lot above the valley, painting the hoodoos with (what I thought was) just the right amount of light. Thank you, passing motorist!


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