Back at camp, we got the tents set up and after a fair bit of discussion, mustered up some pretty basic dinner before we got right back on the shuttle. We’d been told that the canyon had some of the best stars anywhere since there is no light pollution. We were the only people on the bus in the dark, and Ben and I were almost immediately annoyed that we’d forgotten to grab our headlamps on our way to the bus. It was pitch black outside and we had no lights but the flash on our camera and Kim’s cell phone.
As we rode up the canyon in the darkness, we debated about where to get off, but eventually Kim won out and we headed almost to the top of the shuttle route at Big Bend. We piled off the bus and realized that there was absolutely no one out, and there were no lights anywhere. I was a bit creeped out at first, but the stars were simply stunning. Once we got over the darkness, the chorus of crickets kept us company as we took in the magnitude of the universe from a tiny dark desert canyon.
Ben and I were determined to try and shoot some star trails, a technique which we’d read a lot about and never had much success with. Since we were struggling to reduce the noise in the long exposures we’d tried before, we decided to try a series of shorter exposures that we could combine later.
Overall, we took a series of twenty six exposures lasting for thirty seconds a piece, which displayed a nice movement of stars over the course of our short excursion. The issue with this method was that our camera takes a long time to process each long exposure, leaving gaps between our exposure times. The ultimate result of this method was some dotted star trails, and we’re still not sure how we might go about avoiding the issue in the future. Still, we were fairly happy with our results and acknowledge we still have a lot to learn. If someone who happens to be reading along has any further hints, please share!