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I shot these star circles in Death Valley on November 24, 2020.


It was challenging finding a spot there with the right northern exposure and with something interesting in the foreground. As dusk approached I settled in on the well at Stovepipe Wells. The story goes that in 1906 the first settlement in this area happened as the road between Rhyolite and Skidoo was built. This well was the only water source anywhere near there. The stove pipe was put there because from time to time the location of the well would be covered with sand, and the pipe helped people see where it was. The light streak at the edge of the foreground is from cars driving by while I was shooting and the horizontal lines in the star circles are from planes and satellites.


I normally remove all the contemporary human elements from these composites. This time I didn’t. I like the different times reflected in this image. The light from the stars is hundreds of lightyears old, finally reaching earth as I sat there. Many of those stars have no doubt gone dark in that time. There is the light of the cars streaking by in the present as I shot these and which I cursed each time one went by. The well has been there for a hundred and seventeen years and people who drank from it probably watched the same stars. And I and sat there shooting for three hours after setting up for an hour or so before dark. Hence the title of this piece, “Time.”


For my photo geek friends, this is a composite of 391 images, each shot at 25 second exposures at f2.8 with ISO set at 1600. I shot this with a Sony A7Riv and the 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens at 12mm.


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