previous post on airglow observations at rimside. The minute-long exposure with a fisheye lens at F/2.8 if anything overexposes the sky (minor levels adjustments), but other than the lights of Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon, almost no Canyon details are seen, even though the Double Cluster and Andromeda Galaxy are seen at right central and far right. The small orange sky glow is from Page, about 70 air miles distant.
Wally Pacholka, who makes a living shooting scenics, particularly night scenics at National Parks. While he has few of the Canyon at night (he must have noticed the same "black hole" effect I mentioned above), the one classic Canyon image he has is of the Desert View Watchtower under the Milky Way. The Watchtower is probably the one manmade emblem of the Canyon recognized by most. Built in 1932, designed by noted architect Mary Jane Coulter, it is based on ancient pueblo watchtowers. I've blogged about it before, but I was interested in improving on Wally's shot - one reason I've been practicing my Milky Way Panoramas the last month or two. It is also one of the reasons we went up to the star party at the Canyon a day early - to have a night off to attempt the shot. Unfortunately, it clouded up on our early arrival, so I sneaked away one night after the peak of the public had passed our telescope to make the 30 mile trip. But fate conspired against me - not only was the Watchtower brightly lit by a couple spotlights, but the viewing angle was wrong to get the tower under the arch of the Milky Way... I would have had to walk 50 meters out into the canyon to get the shot I wanted! The issue is illustrated at left - a brightly lit tower, Milky Way barely visible and decentered from where I wanted it...
Well, practice makes perfect - I'll keep practicing and seeing if I can improve my technique. What I've learned so far - high ISOs help to shorten exposures, as do fast lenses (kit lenses at F/3.5 or slower just won't do!). Short exposures are needed to minimize star trailing caused by Earth's rotation. It is likely my post-processing that needs tuning - I'll post my mistakes here as I learn!
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