Photographer Gavin Heffernan is no stranger to aiming his camera skyward. In May, he headed out to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley Navajo Park in Arizona, where he produced a four-minute video of the transformation of that stark landscape from day to night.
Now, he's released a new video (embedded below) that captures the beauty of the landscape of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks in California -- as well as the star-streaked night sky above them.
"It was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, with incredible canyons, mountains, and vistas out of a fantasy novel," Heffernan told Crave. "Far removed from any light pollution, the skies were equally stunning, with some epic milky ways, star trails, and the biggest meteorite picture I've ever captured."
You can see the laser-like strikes at 1:41 and 2:26 in the video. Also of particular note are the richly detailed images Heffernan captured of the Milky Way, which makes its way across the sky at 1:15 and 2:34.
Heffernan's 3.5-minute video is called "Kings," which is fitting not only as a nod to the location, but for the sheer majesty of the images captured. Adding to the grandeur of the piece is the soundtrack, a song titled "Rain is Coming," by Heffernan's friend, Tim Phillips, who wrote the song for his album, "Dragon," composed for the National Theatre of Scotland.
To gather the images for the video, Heffernan headed to the parks during the summer solstice (June 21) and shot for three days.
"Most night shots were captured with 25-second exposures on two Canon EOS 6D's with a variety of wide, fast lenses, including a 24mm f1/4 and 28mm f1/8," he says in the Vimeo description of the project. He adds that the star-trails effects were created using a freeware-rendering program called Starstax that mimics the rotation of the Earth.
Heffernan also mentions that this shoot was more filled with wildlife than previous ventures in the relatively desolate desert. "Our most exciting nature encounter to date came when a big brown bear stumbled upon us as we were setting up a time-lapse," he says -- something you can check out for yourself in the "making of" video created by Heffernan's partner in the adventure, John C. Brookins.
For now, though, grab your sense of wonder and prepare to do some serious stargazing.