When I learned that the Geminid Meteor Shower would be at peak activity level in the wee morning hours of December 14th, I was honestly a bit pessimistic.  Snow had just started dumping in the mountains, and we had not had a clear sky in Central Oregon for over a week.  By the evening of December 13th, not a single star visible under the moon-illuminated cloak of clouds.  Regardless, I knew that there would be at most just one chance to witness the celestial spectacle of a potential of over 120 meteors per hour.  

I slept in my car at the Balancing Rocks trailhead, properly nestled in my 0-degree sleeping bag on this frigid night.  My first alarm was set for 2am on December 14th:  still cloudy.  I could see the setting moon behind the clouds.  2:30am alarm: signs of promise, some stars appearing high in the sky.  3:00am alarm: jackpot!  The overcast had completely cleared, just after the bright moon dropped below the western horizon and just as the meteor shower was reaching its peak activity.  

I already scouted my shooting location and composition with the hoodoos in the foreground when I arrived, just before sunset.  Thus, setting up in the dark was relatively straightforward.  With my camera set on a tripod and intervalometer, I captured one 15 second exposure after the other, for a little over an hour.  While waiting, I laid on the bare ground and stared at the most impressive fireworks show that I have ever seen.  I could not believe just how many meteors there were, and before long my only remaining wish was that my toes would not catch frostbite.


Balancing Rocks, Oregon

Once I got the hundreds of images uploaded on my computer, I noticed that any single image that captured the asteroids did not totally evoke the voluminous nature of this meteor shower.  However, I did capture many exposures with meteors in this composition (19 to be exact).  While I am usually not a fan of blending images from separate moments together to create a composite image, I thought this may be an appropriate way to convey the message that I was going for since I began planning this photoshoot months before.  

The result is a composite of 20 photographs of the same composition, with one foreground image, and 19 images displaying meteors.  With the composite image, my intended subject is not any single meteor, but rather the Geminid Meteor Shower as a whole. 

Over the course of December as it would turn out, there would not be another clear night like this until New Years Eve.  Where preparation, persistence, execution, and luck meet is usually a pretty damn good moment.

"Whodoo" was photographed on a Nikon Z7, with a Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S lens.  The image settings for the stars were ISO 3200, f/1.8, 15 sec, and the foreground image was captured at ISO 400, f/1.8, 60 sec.  

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