Thursday, October 11, 2012


This is another post covering our recent trip to Utah.

Following our day of driving through and around Capitol Reef National Park, we headed to Goblin Valley State Park, where we were to spend our second night, arriving in the evening.  While Jeff and Bei set up their tent in the park's campground, Geri and I settled in to our yurt--a first for us.  The yurt, which was 20 feet in diameter, came with bunk beds (but no bedding--we had sleeping bags), electricity, heat, a deck, and its own fire pit and barbeque grill.  Nice.  You might call this "quasi-camping."  Moreover, the yurt was tucked away in an alcove at the base of some cliffs, so it was really secluded from the rest of the campers.  Here is a shot taken late at night--after dark.  The exposure on this shot was 30 seconds.

After they got their tent set up, Jeff and Bei came over and got a campfire going.  I set up the following tripod shot, with an exposure of one second at an ISO of 500, using the campfire for light.  The bright lines to the left of the fire were from sparks flying up.  We weren't as cold as we looked.

It was the night of the full moon.  That had the advantage of providing more light to better help us find our way to the outhouses (the yurt was great, but it didn't have indoor plumbing).  The drawback to the full moon was that it prevented us from getting a look at the Milky Way.  I did try to get a star-track photo.  Here is that attempt.

I did want to include the rock formations for context.  However, I lost patience with the shot, as we had other stuff going on, and I just did not want to leave the camera shutter open any longer.  This exposure was about 8-1/2 minutes.  A close look does reveal short star tracks.  I just wish I had left the shutter open for, say, an hour.  That would have resulted in a somewhat lighter sky, but the tracks should not have been any brighter, just seven longer, as the camera would have continued to move under the sky.  The aperture was set at f/8 for this shot, and the ISO was set at 100 to minimize noise.  Earlier in the summer I had tried a star track shot with the aperture set at f/22.  That just did not allow enough light in to create good tracks.

Note that the tracks on the right are shorter, indicating that they were closer to Polaris (the North Star), which, because it is almost directly above the north pole, would show a very small track, as it describes a very tight circle around the point directly above the north pole.  It would have been nice if I had included Polaris in the shot, but I wasn't paying enough attention, I guess.

The next morning we were up before dawn.  Here is a shot of the early morning  full moon before it set behind an interesting set of cliffs.

And here is another pre-sunrise shot when the eastern sky was getting interesting.  Note the mountain in the very far distance toward the right of the image.

Finally, here is a shot of a rock formation near our yurt that was bathed in early morning direct sunlight.

After breakfast, we headed for a morning of hiking in Goblin Valley.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.


  1. Great photos! That yurt looks amazing! Can you rent it? How do you go about reserving it?

  2. There are two yurts at the campground and both are available for rent, at what I consider a very reasonable cost. Check with Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.