Saturday, August 13, 2016


At the end of July I went to Borrego Springs to attend a Night Sky Photography Workshop conducted by Dennis Mamana, a professional photographer and astronomer who now lives in Borrego Springs.

It was a hot weekend in the desert. The temperature outside on Saturday reached 108˚F. We started with a day of lectures and seeing examples of work by Dennis indoors in an air conditioned room. We learned a bit of the cautions to take at night when out photographing - rocks to stumble over, snakes that may be out, cacti to walk into, etc. We also learned few tricks for composing such as pushing the ISO way up and then viewing the resulting picture on the LCD screen before actually taking the picture at the desired settings. The air conditioning went out around mid-day and it got up to the high 80's and maybe into the 90's  in our meeting room.  Thankfully I had been recently introduced to a cooling towel. (A cooling towel is a short towel made of a synthetic material which when wet or damp helps to keep you cool. You put it around your neck, and if there is any air movement, the evaporation from the towel helps to keep you cool.) I would occasionally wet it with the cool water from the water cooler, and it did a good job of keeping me very comfortable.

In the evening we met for dinner at Carlee's before heading off to explore the night sky with our cameras. we swapped photo trip tales and got to know each other a little more. We had one lady who had come from Phoenix, and a couple of gents from the L. A. area. My friend, Lin, had joined me and we enjoyed a very good dinner of bbq'd ribs, coleslaw, and sweet potato fries.

After dinner, Dennis led us off to some of the metal sculptures of Ricardo Breceda. There were several statues in an area of about a 200 yard radius for us to choose from. We were able to get the lay of the land before it got dark, thankfully. After dark we relied on red lens flashlights to get around.

We photographed the Milky Way in different configurations with the figures in the foreground. Sometimes the statues were lit by tail lights, and at other times people painted them with flashlights. This technique takes a bit of practice to get the intensity of the light right as well as the painting smooth.
Ocotillo and Monster

Sparing Dinosaurs

Spewing Stars

Dinosaurs Sparing
I also experimented with a star trail. I did this in the film days by just opening the shutter and leaving it there for an hour or two, or even 20 minutes. I actually have one that is several hours long. I went to bed for part of the time. Today with digital cameras one takes multiple exposures ever 20 seconds or more and then stack the images together and create the star trail. The reason for the multiple exposures is that the digital camera will create too much noise if the camera is left on for too long and the sensor heats up. My star trail was only about 7 minutes in length with each shot being about 15 seconds long.  it gave me practice and I learned how to use the software to create the trail effect.

7 Minute Star Trail


  1. These shots are amazing and the sculptures are a perfect foreground for the night sky.

  2. Wow, very nice Nancy! Thanks for sharing the tips on night photography too.