Not THAT kind of Rodeo… We’re talking about our first trip to Rodeo, New Mexico. Out in the middle of nowhere, it is known as an excellent Dark Sky location. I was excited to try out my new astrophotography gear! We were basically following my new buddy, Chuck, a very accomplished astrophotographer, who has been kind enough to help me get started.
Below are a few shots of the view from our campground…
Astrophotography is best done at night (Ha!) so daytime is for exploration. Cave Creek Canyon is a short drive from our campsite, and offers some awesome scenery. Chuck knows these parts well, and came with us as we explored this beautiful area.
Obviously named for the many caves in the cliffs on either side of the creek…
Some areas the rocks were ablaze with color, predominantly reds, yellows and greens.
I’m not sure how much of the color is due to the rock’s composition, or to lichens growing on them, like this rock below.
Cave Creek Ranch
The entrance into Cave Creek Ranch had a few caution signs… like this one warning of BUMPS, then one a bit later saying SERIOUS BUMP! (They were right!)
There are plenty of trails to hike around the area.
Of course, we were interested in the Ranch’s reputation for having lots of interesting birds, including the star attraction, the Elegant Trogan. We visited twice, and his excellency declined viewing privileges both times. He is supposed to be really gorgeous, and we will try again next month. We did manage to see 9 new-to-us species while in New Mexico.
We also saw a few other, non-bird creatures…
Coat of Monday…
Coatimundi is the proper spelling, but before I looked it up I put the above line as a placeholder. My editor (Cherryl) laughed and said I should leave it there. Anyway, we saw a Coat of Monday while we were looking at birds. He just ambled through the area like he owned the place. And I guess he did! Great fun!
A few weeks ago we were excited to see a Javelina in our campground in Tucson. Here we came across a herd (group? bunch? passel?) of Javelina and had fun walking cautiously around them. Later we ran across another lot of them (not literally) bringing our Javelina total to 15 for the day. Rather funny little pig type animals; it was fun to watch a baby prance around.
On our route home I had to stop and look at this old Chevy. I’m thinking it’s a 1950, making it slightly older than I am. It sits in front of a cute little shop, but the owners did not know what year it was either. It won a few trophies at events long ago, but has fallen into a rather sad condition. Anyone know with some certainty what model year it is?
Super Amateur Astrophotographer!
I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about this exciting field, but I’m learning! So here in Rodeo was my first chance to get good dark sky photos. It’s a rather complicated task… First, you set up all the beautiful equipment. 😉 Once it’s dark enough, you do what’s called a Polar Alignment; aiming your equipment to the celestial north pole. When that is done, the guiding mechanism rotates with the apparent movement of the stars (really it’s the earth that is rotating) to let you keep your camera aimed at the same place, and eliminate “Star Trails.” Then you aim your camera, focus it, and use an intervalometer to program it to take something like 100 time exposures. You then take a matching series of “dark frames,” with the lens cap on, which will be used to reduce any artifacts (noise) the camera sensor might produce. There are also “flat frames” and “bias frames” that can be done in the morning. Then all these exposures are fed into a computer program that analyzes, aligns and “stacks” all the good images together, to get the maximum light with the least “noise.” That stacked image is then taken to Photoshop or some other program to further balance the light and color, and if you’ve done all that work well, you might get a stellar photo! (Ha!)
So here is my little setup:
This is my second shot – the center of Orion. I have tried to do the post production myself here. I think the individual frames were underexposed, and I was not able to bring out much color in the nebulas. Probably a better expert could enhance this photo significantly.
This was my first photo of Orion. I had a friend show me a bit of post processing, and he came up with this result. Again, I don’t consider it done, but there is certainly some cool color going on! Maybe I’ll post more finished images later – this is all I’ve got as of press time!
Rusty’s RV Ranch
So we had a great time at the Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico. Remote and beautiful! We are planning on heading there at the end of the month to try more photography.