An evening under the stars in Utah’s Bryce National Park
By Natalie Wiles
Utah is home to the highest concentration of International Dark Sky Parks in the world, so you can imagine my excitement when I realised that my fam trip dates matched perfectly with International Dark Sky Week! What better place to experience that magical blanket of stars!?
As a budding (amateur) photographer, I have admired so many beautiful night sky images, wondering how the professionals do it: how do they capture such crisp and clear night skies with beaming stars? Could I ever achieve that too? I was incredibly excited to get the perfect opportunity to try. And if I couldn’t get a dark sky shot in Utah then I would have to hang up my strap…
The day was grey…… not a great start! We headed off to dinner, coats, gloves and scarves piled in the minibus ‘just in case’. Whilst eating I couldn’t help but notice some breaks in the clouds through the window. Blue sky peeking through. Could this be our chance? As we left the restaurant, enough sky was visible for us to drive into Bryce National Park to at least try. Although Bryce is not an International Dark Sky Park, it is an accredited Dark Sky Place due to the limited light pollution in the area.
We sat like gnomes in the minibus, our noses pressed against the windows, craning our necks to catch glimpses of stars as it got darker. We ‘googled’ and ‘Youtubed’ camera settings for dark sky photography, getting our brains and cameras ready to try those dream shots. After 45 minutes I was feeling disheartened, not just for myself but for the entire fam group who had followed me into the cold darkness on a whim, when they could have been enjoying a cocktail at the bar!
But – it was worth the wait! The clouds dispersed and like the flick of a switch, the sky was suddenly SMOTHERED in stars! Spinning 360 degrees we were treated to the most magical sky I have ever seen. With my fellow photography enthusiasts, we snapped away, experimenting with settings and angles, until we had achieved something that we never thought possible. We had got our night sky photographs! We did it!