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New Meetup: Natural Bridges Star Trails and Sunrise <Last Minute>

From: Steven C.
Sent on: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 6:08 PM
This email is being sent to all members of the Night Photography Meetup Group.

I guess backpacking and camping on a week night to watch the celestial fireworks isn't popular with everyone. smile SO

Announcing a new Meetup for Bay Area Night Photography!

What: Natural Bridges Star Trails and Sunrise <Last Minute>
When: Saturday, October 17, 2009 4:00 AM

Where: Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz, California, USA, the Earth.

This last minute meetup is due to the excellent weather forecast for Santa Cruz - excellent as in clear smile.

Sunrise is at 7:17 AM. Astronomical twilight begins at 5:52 AM (after that, the sky begins to brighten). If you want a good star trail, you really need to be there 3 hours before astronomical twilight (3:00 AM) - but I may not be there that early myself so I don't expect that of you!

October 17 is a NEW moon. In addition to all that, Natural Bridges, just north of Santa Cruz, faces South so it is possible to get semi-circular star trails - or perhaps as I got previously airplane trails:

Not interested in a star trail? What about a sunrise, will that float your boat? The sun rises at an oblique angle to the opening in the rock. Check out this image by Jason Armstrong ["The Man in Red"]

FYI there are some minor complications.

1. The park doesn't officially open until sunrise.
2. Like my last meetup, this one is EARLY.
3. Bring, but avoid using a flashlight for TWO reasons a) others may be photographing when you arrive b) I don't want to attract attention.
4. I've run into interesting people before dawn there. Never felt any reason for concern, but be alert and find the group rather than wander off.
5. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SAFETY - stay off the rocks. It will be near a high tide around sunrise.

I recommend parking at Swanton Blvd near W. Cliff Drive. There is usually parking on the right side of the street as you're headed toward the ocean.

Getting there... (Assuming you're coming from San Jose). Take 17 to 1 North (which becomes Mission Street). About the time you seem to be escaping town you will see Swift Street on your left. Turn left and follow it until you either end up in the ocean (oops) or you reach West Cliff Drive. Turn RIGHT. Follow W. Cliff Drive it until you crash through the gates at Natural Bridges (ooops) or turn right onto Swanton Blvd. This street has residences on the right and a long fence for the Natural Bridges State Beach on your left. Drive North until you can turn around and then park in the spot you located while headed away from the ocean.

OR Just follow the signs. They'll take you there if you notice them in the dark!

4:00 AM. But don't be surprised if I'm already there. If you don't see anyone near the entrance go through/around the gates and follow the fence until you can find a path down to the beach.

What to Bring
You should know... but 1) Tripod, 2) Camera, 3) Warm layered clothing, 4) Headlamp, 5) Mace... no I'm kidding about the mace, but you might want to bring 6) a lightweight folding chair - if nothing else you can keep your equipment or your backside out of the sand. You might also want to bring a thermos with a hot beverage and some cash to buy breakfast (anybody know a really good spot? I have a favorite bakery but it's not that close).

Need to know more about creating star trails?

Learn more here:

Or contact me, your faithful assistant disorganizer:

Steven C.

Our Sponsors

  • Star Circle Academy

    Purveyor of Workshops and webinars for the avid night photographer.

  • Bumblejax

    Creating handmade, gallery quality wall art using your digital photos.

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