Shiprock by WaynePinkston

This is the iconic Shiprock for which the town of Shiprock is named in NE New Mexico. The rock rises 1583 feet (482 meters) above the desert plain, and can be seen for miles around. It is sacred to the Navajo people. The formation is similar to those in Monument Vally about 90 minutes to the West. This photo is Panorama of 11 vertical images combined in Photoshop and taken with a Canon 6D camera, and a Bower 24 1.4 lens at f 1.4, 20 sec, and ISO 6400.

I wanted to get a more horizontal Milky Way and so this was taken relatively early in the night, near the crossover from twilight to true dusk (darkness). The illumination is from a very small crescent moon to my back, as well as some light pollution. The presence of the moonlight also tends to make the sky bluer in the photos.

The yellows and oranges are not a sunset! The sun set to my back. This is light pollution from the town of Shiprock (population of around 8,000) approximately 10 mikes (16 km) away.

There are many reasons why this photo almost did not happen.

I did not know that this monolithic rock even existed and I was traveling across northern New Mexico to get to the Bisti Badlands near Farmington. But you can see this huge rock for an hour or more as you drive across NE New Mexico. As I stared at the rock my driving dazed brain started to think “I wonder what this looks like at night”?

And then there is no easy access to the rock. The nearest paved access is more than 2 miles (3 km) away and was on the wrong side of the rock (south side). As I was riding around I noticed a couple filming off of a dirt road and pulled over to talk. The woman seemed to be a Native American and assured me the land was not private or restricted. When I told her what I watched to do she pulled a map out of her car that showed a maze of dirt roads. She showed me how to get to a position north of the formation and how to avoid impassable ravines and ridges. Thank you nice lady!

And then there was the light pollution. It is best to be shooting away from the light pollution, but this time I had to shoot right into the brightest spot. I had doubts that the photo would succeed. As it turned out the light pollution could be used to enhance the photo. It is not a truly “dark” night photo, but is still interesting.

And then I was supposed to be in another park, but the nice park ranger told me I could not shoot there at night as he gave me a speeding ticket. This was not the way I wanted to meet a ranger.

And then the sky was so hazy near the horizon that night that I believed there was no way to get a clear photo. I just went ahead with the attempt just because I was already there.

Anyway it turned out to be more colorful and interesting than expected.

Thanks for looking. All comments are appreciated. Hope you enjoy!

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