Star Trails over Death Valley

Near Stove Pipe Wells — 2012 View Full Star Trails Portfolio »

Purchase Info

Image Notes

Preparing to return from my 2012 Fall Zion Trip, I had the sudden inspiration to do a midnight run through Death Valley and try a Star Trails image. Hoping to arrive at midnight around the Dunes at Stove Pipe Wells, I thought I could get a potentially great image. But, naturally, my packing wasn't as efficient as I planned and I was delayed en route to help jump start the car of some stranded college kids. Leaving your car lights on while you goof off in the remote desert at night is not recommended.

When I finally got to Stove Pipe Wells, it was 4 am. Tired and a bit irritated, I decided to just head west hoping to catch a few winks in a pullout. But as I was driving west up the steep grade out of Stove Pipe, something compelled me to stop (I had to pee) and looking back down into the Valley, I got excited about making an image. Once set up, exposures started at 4:30 am and ran until 6:29 am when I woke up in the truck and realized dawn was well upon us.

While I had 182 total exposures, only 142 were dark enough for the image presented here.

About the Star Trails Images

I first dived into Star Trails photography during a trip to the White Mountains of California during the Perseids meteor shower of August, 2012. A small group of us, having taught photography workshops in the Whites, had the unique opportunity to stay at the Crooked Creek White Mountain Research Center at an elevation of 10,100 feet. Despite some initial failures, it only took a couple nights of photographing to get hooked.

Star Trails images are exposed in 20-30 second intervals in succession for 160 to 500+ exposures which equates to 2 to 6 hours of exposure. Images are uniformly processed in Adobe Lightroom and then stacked in Star Stax. Once stacked, I spend hours meticulously spotting noise and nighttime objects out of the image in order to create a final Pigment Ink Prints of exceptionally quality and longevity. Prints are available in limited edition at very reasonable valuations. I've also provided an extensive tutorial for anyone interested in trying Star Trails photography for themselves.

Star Trails over Death Valley

Star Trails over Death Valley

Near Stove Pipe Wells — 2012

Purchase Print