Unfortunately, out of 400 photos taken on this trip, only a handful are even remotely acceptable.
So as I continue to salvage the rest through adjustments in levels, exposure, etc... I will post the presentable ones. I will definitely be returning to Baja this summer in order to take Milky Way Core photos during Milky Way season. Also keep an eye out for my blog post "Hazards of Dark Sky Photography" which will detail the (unintended) adventure I undertook in Mexico!
First... the GOOD!
I stayed at a WONDERFUL little place called Mama Espinoza's in El Rosario.
The accommodations were as comfy and well-maintained as anywhere I've been! The employees are a joy! They're professional and friendly (even helping me get my keys out of my locked car!).
It's not only historic (it has been a check point for the famous BAJA 1000 RACE since the very first race), but it's a sublimely relaxing, quiet getaway about 5 hours from the border. This means it's well past Tijuana and Ensenada.... and therefore in some VERY dark skies. But as with all things in life, there is a trade-off. Being so far from civilization means... well... you're far away from civilization. (NOT that these little towns are "uncivilized"... they are just... well... isolated.)
I discovered this in all-too practical terms!
Welcome to NOWHERE !!!
Due to the unreliability of Google Maps,
I was directed 'right' when I should've gone 'left' and ended up in an arroyo (dry creek bed). The sand was deep and merciless! Even with my lifelong experience of Colorado snowdrifts, this sand was far worse.
Kilometers and kilometers from any evidence of humans, At moments, I honestly thought I might never be found.
I got stuck just at sunset and the ENTIRE night was spent trying to get my car unstuck (minus SOME photographing).
"The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped."
T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia")
After 12 hours of fruitless endeavor, I looked up and asked God to send me an angel. I climbed out of the arroyo and began walking the nearly 20 miles to the highway. Soon, the angel appeared in the form of a local man named "Caesar" who spoke no English, but was friendly and willing to help. He just happened to be hauling water to some distant destination as our paths crossed.
We returned to the arroyo and spent a few hours using his truck to pull my car out. His truck likewise got stuck, and some time was spent getting IT unstuck before we could finally dig me out of the hole I had created (both literally and figuratively).
I slept for a few hours at Mama Espinoza's and ventured to Punta Baja (much closer to the hotel than my previous night's attempt to go to Punta San Carlos.)
In the above photo, do you see the white glow going straight-up from the setting moon? That isn't an effect of photography, the moon, or the sun (which set shortly before)... it is called "The Zodiac Light" and was brilliant for a couple hours after sunset. I was truly amazed how bright and long-lasting it was in these dark skies. It appears similar to the Milky Way (on the right hand of the photo above) but extends at a different angle and is more consistent. I tried to capture more photos of it, but alas, I think I bumped my aperture settings and never corrected them.
A two-day-old fingernail moon
sets over the Pacific Ocean
The constellation Orion hangs over the crashing waves at Punta Baja.
I learned why you will probably never see an un-composited photo of stars from a beach with massive waves. The crashing waves create a dense mist that extends well onto shore; therefore a lens will almost immediately be covered with due. I found I needed to cover the lens, and remove it for the time of the exposure, quickly wipe the lens dry and cover it before taking the next shot.
The WONDERFUL accommodations at Mama Espinoza's:
Delicious tortilla soup - to DIE for!!!!! Very hot and very delicious!
Can't make up your mind? Taco, enchilada, rice.......
Where I got stuck.....
#$%@! you Google Maps !!!!