Monday, February 23, 2009

Lighpainting Petroglyphs!

Albuquerque, New Mexico - 2:45am on Feb 20, 2009

Petroglyphs National Monument

After you come to your senses from these otherworldly images of ancient petroglyphs, you may be thinking to yourself, "Seriously Paul? Do you ever come home?" I share your sentiment. The 38 days of travel thus far in 2009 have been jam-packed spanning across three countries (from here to Santiago - Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine - El Calafate - El Chalten - Memphis - Washington DC - San Antonio - Albuquerque - and home again), and I'm a bit tired. Makes sense, I guess. So I'll stop travelling for a bit in order to be home in Knoxville, TN. I couldn't be more excited about that.

What you see in the images above is the result of one minute exposures (ISO 3200 on Nikon's new D700) while hand-painting the petroglyphs with the touch of a flashlight in selected areas. The red glow in the starry night sky comes from the nearby city of Albuquerque. It's literally like painting a blank canvas with light as your paint source in the parts of the image where star-light does not register. This is not new to you if you've seen the cave-illuminating images that we've done in the past (see "May 2007" in the blog archives).  This is simply on a smaller, more delicate scale. Keep looking below—the pics get weirder...

I want to give a special thanks to Bill Campbell for the idea to leave the NANPA convention at midnight and go make some images in this prehistoric location just 12-minutes from the hotel. When using Bill's ultra-wide 16mm fisheye lens I noticed I was accidentally in the image while testing out my exposures (top). The effect offerred me the potential for an ultra-weird ghostly image if I did it on purpose... so I did (bottom).


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  2. Great pics. I was just in Albuquerque but didn't get to go to the petroglyphs. Instead, I went out to El Morro and stopped back by some lava tubes in El Mapias National Monument. I have pics on my Facebook page. Not like your pics but will give you an impression of the area. Really neat area out there. I have to go back this summer and hope to get by the petroglyphs.

    Andy Huff