Cold Desert Eclipse

My eclipse chasing worked out pretty well, but I was very glad I had considered multiple options! After shooting a nice evening moonrise among the volcanic plugs of New Mexico’s Rio Puerco Valley (results from that session coming in time), I drove up to the trailhead for my planned eclipse location and ate dinner. I considered simply crawling into the sleeping bag and sacking out for the night, but instead talked myself into scouting out my location for the morning. A beautiful moonlight hike took me to the snowy summit of Cerro Chato, a modest, somewhat homely volcanic neck surrounded on all sides by its more impressive siblings. The views of the snowy badlands and towering basalt crags under the full moon were amazing, but I realized on top that the shot I had in mind for the eclipse was simply not going to work. Any composition zoomed in far enough to show the moon to advantage would be much too narrow to encompass Cerro Cuate, the twin-summited peak beside which the eclipsing moon would be setting. My ambitions to capture the eclipse in the context of a nice, big landscape would not be realized here.

Thankfully, I had chewed over numerous other options, the most promising of which was not too far down the road. A damn cold, frosty morning found me up on the gypsum ridges of White Mesa, with my modest telephoto lens zoomed back towards Cabezon Peak, the largest of the Rio Puerco volcanics, now lying well off to the west across miles of mesas and badlands laced with snow. I happily photographed away as the light increased and the eclipsing moon faded like the Cheshire Cat’s smile into the glow of dawn.

Update: Lots of good photos from yesterday out there! For instance (some of these may expire):

One thought on “Cold Desert Eclipse

  1. These are excellent, Jackson…I like the feeling here. A cold desert morning, with some celestial magic happening. Very cool.

    Well, I went ahead and did the multi-image composite. I cheated a little bit and took multiple frames (I did have to move my camera), and then combined them later in Photoshop. The downside is that the BG is all black, with no stars, but I still think it looks cool. You’re right, though…its a real bitch to constantly adjust exposure to ensure consistent brightness/luminosity between exposures…

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