Starry Night at Shadow Mt. Fire Lookout, Light Painting Astrophotography Environmental Photojournalism
Photo by James Branaman
We hiked just under 5 miles to an elevation of 9,923 ft. to photograph the Shadow Mountain Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park. We received special permission to spend the night at the retired fire lookout to create this image. On our descent, we met the National Park Service crew hiking their way up to reactivate the tower for the first time in years. Summary: I spent two weeks in June serving as an artist in residence at Rocky Mountain National Park. My wife, photojournalist Julie Busch Branaman and I worked on a project documenting the historic structures of the park for its upcoming 100th anniversary. I wanted to take a different approach, so I chose to photograph at night using light painting. A flashlight served as my light source, "painting" in the areas of the structure and it's surroundings that I wanted to show in the frame. Long exposures also allow star trails adding an interesting background to the scene.