Last Friday night I guided 3 night photographers in Monument Valley which started at 12:30 am. I had been emailing them back and forth and our mission was to shoot the beautiful landscape with the Milkyway Galaxy in the sky. These 3 photographers were very professional and knew exactly what to do. I met them at the Visitors Center and its pretty exciting meeting up with photographers at night to take pictures in the dark in the wild of the desert. We were supposed to have gone the night before but the wind was so gnarly and cloudy that we canceled it. As we met up and they started putting all their gear in the jeep it was so cold, 40 Fahrenheit, and breezy. We started driving in the Valley and they were ready to be guided.
We set up by the Mittens and our mission was to shoot the milkyway arching over the two hands and the butte on the left. It was easy and very fun. I shoot with a Nikon D750, another lady was using a Nikon D850, and other two guys were shooting Canon Mark 5D Mark IV. They knew exactly what to do, shoot vertical with a lens with a focal length of 20mm or 24mm, but I used a 35mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.4. I shot from left to right and took my sweet time. I shot each exposure at 15 seconds, 8000-10000 ISO, and made sure to overlap. Don’t panic and enjoy it. Take all the beauty in. It is so peaceful to be in the Valley under the stars and you can definitely feel everything around you in the wild of the desert, coyotes, bobcats, desert wildlife, and definitely some spiritual aspects of it. I believe in the Earth, at night and during the day.
This Panorama shooting takes a long time and I was always asking how they were doing and whether they needed help with anything, but they were good and very professional. We eventually finished up and headed to another location.
The next spot was good but a little tight for 4 night photographers with tripods. I shot a pano sequence to demonstrate how to shoot the spot and they followed, although they were skeptical on if the shot would turn out:
It did and I shared an easy way to stitch with Lightroom photo merge/panorama and edit in Photoshop. The landscape was lit with Low Level Lighting and they were very knowledgeable with this technique. I like this technique but I also like to reflect that light off of something to light what you need to be lit, lol, a nice gentle reflective light.
Later into the early am night it started to get breezy and very cold, and fatigue was setting in pretty good. We tried a couple more locations and at the last spot I held the light for Low Level Lighting and politely told the group time was almost up. Being a night photographer is crazy for your internal clock and can mess with your digestive system patterns, movements, lol, as you will be up all night taking pictures, constructing your shots, working and towards the Sunrise you become exhausted, feeling like you just got hit by a bus. Driving back is a struggle and I always try to have a redbull or something with caffeine to pick me up. This is a good one: (Monster Rehab Fruit Punch)
As I dropped the photographers off one of them passed out in the passenger seat. They were very satisfied and I could tell they put in work to produce some amazing images. We settled up and they were very generous and nice, I always appreciate that for the excellent service I provide them. I sometimes learn some neat tricks from the people I take out, and this group of photographers were all about Planit photography app, what a cool app. You can plan out your night shoot with your phone app and it shows you where the milkway will be at all times of the night, kinda like Photopills(I use religiously, my buddy Wayne introduced me).
During the Summer this is the lifestyle, planning landscape night shoots, figuring out where the milkway will be, scouting, camping, night hiking, night adventures. I have become in love with this and is very addicting, seeing a gorgeous landscape during the day and imagining how that scene will look with stars over it and sometimes with a milkway beamin’, straight beaming.