Last Tuesday Greg was invited to give a talk at the Lancaster Photographic Association; we carpooled up there, and on the way stopped at Vasquez Rocks. This county park houses an unusual formation of rocks, whose main claim to fame seems to be that they’ve been featured in numerous movies and TV shows.
Vasquez Rocks were featured prominently in the Star Trek episode “Arena” 1. The formation seen above is on the left-hand side of the classic shot of Kirk facing off with the alien Gorn; scroll down on this page to see the classic Star Trek shot2.
The rocks are indeed visually interesting, and I wish we’d had more time to explore them. I got distracted by all the beautiful lichen present (which will the feature of a separate post), and so didn’t even make it halfway around the rock formations before we had to leave.
Many people were having fun climbing the rocks, leading to great opportunities to add some scale to the pictures:
As we drove home after Greg’s talk we watched a beautiful sunset over I-14, and decided to stop at the park to see what we could find. We got there just as dusk was ending, and the park was sadly closed. But we set up outside and had fun playing with star photography.
I’ve been drooling over star trails for some time now, and before the trip Greg had been nice enough to send me an excellent star trail tutorial, as well as post an excellent example of the start trail genre to motivate me. Thanks to his help, within a few minutes I’d captured this:
Sadly, when I captured the first picture of the night (to test exposure time and composition) and looked at the preview, I thought the lines next to the stars meant that the tripod had vibrated during the shot. Oops. Who knew the stars moved so fast?
Greg then informed me that to freeze the motion of the stars the longest shutter speed you can use is 600 divided by the focal length of the lens. We didn’t know if that was the cropped focal length or the actual focal length of the lens, but I used it as an estimation to get frozen stars:
The long drive to Lancaster proved well worth it. I got to hear Greg talk, meet lots of neat people at the (very active!) club, and capture my first star trails and starry night shot.
2 Yes, I’m a geek.
To see more pictures from the day, head to my Vasquez Rocks Gallery or view the Flash slideshow below.
Vasquez Rocks County Park: The park is located near highway 14 between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, CA. Take the Agua Dulce Canyon Road exit and follow the signs to the park (head north from the freeway). Parking was free and plentiful; a number of hiking trails branched off from the lot, but I don’t know how far they go. The park’s website lists hours and directions.