South of Council Bluffs, a majestic hilltop barn sits beneath the Milky Way. A tiny meteor is streaking through the upper-right corner. In the past month, I’ve done more night photography than I ever have. First, my brother and I spent mid-July in the Badlands and Black Hills photographing the inky clear skies of South Dakota. And then the Perseids meteor shower coincided with the new moon this past week, so I joined some local photographer friends on a couple of night outings, reveling in the eerie midnight stillness of rural western Iowa.
In other exciting news, mutual admiration has resulted in a mini-exhibit of my prints at Tussey’s Casual Grill in Omaha: four large landscape prints and six floral portraits. Go take a look and try their Thai chicken pasta. It is amazingly good.
This was taken last Thursday in Badlands National Park, during the new moon, near the area known as yellow mounds. I'm not going to bore you with all the obsessive planning/obsessing that has led up to the small series of photos I captured during our (ie, Teri's, Gavin's, and my) latest twelve-hour visit to the park. If you know me well, you already know how much I love the Badlands and how much I talk about visiting the park, and you're probably tired of hearing about it. I'll start the series with this photograph, taken around 1 am mountain time, that I will always look back on and smile because that wonderfully still night, adorned with distant calls from howling coyotes and mystery rustlings and the profound stillness between, seemed to last forever.
This one is dedicated to my good friends Rob and Maggie Schlautman, who tied the knot last Friday. I took this photo with Rob last month just east of Council Bluffs while waiting for the no-show Northern Lights. The only light was from the rising moon and the glow of the building midnight fog.
The trip that Daniel and I took to Toadstool Geologic Park was timed ideally for night photography, having been one day removed from the new moon. We really wanted to get some spectacular shots of the Milky Way, and Toadstool is situated far, far away from any urban light pollution. Although I did not end up with any cosmic masterpieces of light painting, it sure was fun fumbling around the toadstools in the pitch black with our flashlights, experimenting with different approaches. The sky was never fully clear at any point, although the brighter stars were visible at times through thin veils of clouds. My most successful photograph from the night is below.
If you are looking for night photography done right, I'll refer you to the work of my good friend Ben Coffman.