Image No. 7

Moonrise and Eastern Sky, Bisti Badlands, NM

Image No. 7 – Moonrise and Eastern Sky, Bisti Badlands, NM  © jj raia

Image No. 7
Usually after the sun goes down or just before it rises, if there are clear skies, you can see the shadow of the earth on the opposite horizon. After taking the image of the red rocks (image no. 5) I continued my trek back to the car always checking each horizon for something interesting, just in case. Nothing was happening along the western sky but the alpenglow east began as I’ve seen before but then morphed  into a kind of sky similar to when the sun sets behind clouds sending individual rays around them into the sky. In addition, the moon had risen not too long before and shone high in the sky above the other worldly rays. It was something I had never seen before and I wanted to capture the beauty of this unique sky. I had kept the camera on the tripod as I hiked back and immediately looked around for anything, some jumbled rocks, a bush or whatever on the ground to compliment the sky, but failed to find anything of great interest. There really wasn’t much time to capture the scene before the rays would begin to fade into the darkness and so I settled on this scene, although the small ridges and bushes on either side do seem to lead toward the center of the frame.  I took several differing exposures with the final exposure well underexposed in order to try to save some detail on the face of the moon. I thought that if I could do some HDR in post processing, I might be able to salvage the scene by blending several of these exposures. It turns out I would end up seeing this “phenomenon” a few more times during the course of the trip but none as exciting as this first one over the Bisti.
However, I was pleased to find that I was eventually able to use that single underexposed image to recreate the scene without all the labor intensive steps to blend several images into one. It also speaks volumes about the dynamic range of today’s sensors!
It was just about dark when I returned to my trek back to the car and eventually it became necessary to use the headlamp to maneuver around some of the deep waterways closer to the entrance gate. I had already felt pleased at capturing the image of the red rocks, but was even more satisfied after these final shots of the day. To have two great opportunities, one right after the other was just icing on the cake of a very rewarding day to say the least. I was weary after so many miles of wandering the Bisti in two different trips that day, but enjoyed one of the freeze-dried camp meals afterward and realized that there were no other cars around and I would enjoy some solitude there overnight.


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