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On a recent trip to Canyonlands National Park, something told me to make time for a very special location known as False Kiva. Being a class II archeological site, it has some interesting historical significance and its unique, remote location stood out to me as a worthy target for a night-hike.
So after some research on the location and some patience with the weather, I headed down one afternoon on a scouting mission. I figured if I got familiar with the route during the daylight that I'd have a good chance of finding it under the cover of darkness. And since I had no shortage of places in the area to shoot on a clear night, I figured I'd make the most of the conditions with a follow-up hike down into the false kiva at about 3 am (after scouting at 3 pm) - in an effort to get into position just in time for the milky way.
I'll admit that during my scouting trip down into False Kiva, it hit me just how special this location is. Hidden up in against a cliff, this spot provides natural protection from the elements and for some, a bit of a spiritual sanctuary. Either way, I could tell that my plan to return for a milky way capture wasn't just one that deserved a separate scouting trip, it was one I was optimistic would yield some awesome results.
False Kiva certainly provides a unique way to frame both the southwest canyons beyond and the skies above. And while the cave itself is natural, there is some question about the origin of the stones - which makes it all the more interesting for me. There's also some debate about the open access that's allowed for such a special location. They essentially use the remote location and the fact that the spot isn't marked on park maps or near trailheads. Adding to the challenge, the natural canyon overhang blocks visibility from most gps satellites in the final part of the route. During my two visits, I saw no signs of vandalism or disrespect, which was great to see. I hope it stays that way for others to enjoy.
This composite image comes from my Nikon D800 and Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens with three exposures - two slower exposures for the light painting (at ISO 1600) and one faster one for the starry skies (using ISO 6400).
April 27th, 2013
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