Starry Nights - Rajesh Jyothiswaran

Cowboy Church

Landscape astrophotographers are more often than not, kindred spirits. Who else would sacrifice their sleep and go to new places and shoot pictures in challenging conditions? One such kindred spirit is my friend Joey Burns. Though we met through a local photography club on Facebook, we never got to meet or shoot with until now. Joey shares the same passion for finding new places and compositions and not more of the same that most people are content to shoot.

When Joey shared a picture of this unique chapel, it brought back memories of the Chapel of Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park. Now, this being Texas, there are no jagged peaks or mountains to form a background. Nonetheless, at a whim Joey and I decided to take take a quick trip to The King’s Trail Cowboy Church in Whitewright, Texas a rural community about 50 minutes drive northeast of us.

Both of us having never been there at night, arrived to very bright lights in the parking lot cloaking the entire scene in light more suitable for a movie set. To the left hand side of the frame, there was a Rodeo Arena befitting the Texas cowboys and country folks that the church primarily serves. The frogs croaking in the pond behind the church provided some background music.

As I took my first test shots, it became apparent that the clear Milky Way that I had hoped to find was more of an ethereal presence. To capture any details in the skies meant that we had to forego any of the standard practices for shooting a usual Milky Way shot. A whole lot of creative experimentation in the field and careful processing yielded this image. When we left the church grounds around 3am, we left happy that we came away with something satisfying. And for me the best part was I finally got to meet Joey and his wife Cindi along along with their very sweet dog, Lakota.

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