Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Perseid Meteor Shower over Snowmass Mountain



Perseid meteor shower over Snowmass Mountain and Snowfield Lake, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Perseid Meteor Shower over Snowmass Mountain, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Standing under a dark sky and watching a meteor shower is a breathtaking experience. Creating a compelling photograph of that experience, however, is difficult. Even the most active meteor showers, the Perseids and Geminids, produce only 50 to 100 meteors per hour, or just one or two per minute. Those numbers refer to meteors visible anywhere in the sky. Even an ultra-wide 16mm lens on a full-frame camera can only see roughly one-fifth of the sky. The longest exposure you can use with a 16mm lens before the stars begin to make obvious streaks is about 30 seconds. Put all those figures together, and it’s clear you’re unlikely to capture more than one meteor in a single exposure—if you even capture one.


So how do you make a photograph that captures the feeling of watching an active meteor shower? The first task is to locate the radiant, the point in the sky where all the meteors appear to originate. For the Perseid meteor shower shown here, the radiant is in the constellation Perseus, which was high in the northeast sky after midnight during the peak of the shower. I wanted to capture the meteor shower over some dramatic peaks, so I hiked to Snowfield Lake, in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, where I hoped to photograph Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak reflected in calm water. When the skies cleared at midnight on August 13, 2015, I composed the shot, locked down the tripod, and didn’t move the camera for the rest of the night. I then shot 30-second exposures back-to-back for five hours.


Once I returned home, I spent a day combing through my images and located the 39 frames that contained bright meteors. I loaded all the meteor-containing frames as layers into a single Photoshop file, chose one layer to be the base layer for the starry background, then loaded one additional image shot with a two-minute exposure so it would show detail in the land. The radiant moved significantly between midnight and 5:00 a.m. as it followed a circular path counter-clockwise around the north star, so I rotated each meteor-containing layer until the stars matched up with the stars in the starry background layer. I then masked out everything but the meteor itself from each meteor-containing layer. I certainly didn’t see all these meteors fly simultaneously, but I did see them fly one-by-one as I stood on the shore of Snowfield Lake, awed by the beauty of the night sky on a moonless night in a place that seemed light-years away from the nearest city.

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Glenn Randall Photography  |  2945 Colby Dr.  |  Boulder CO 80305-6303 | Office 303 499-3009  |  Mobile 720 320-7126

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I offer over 100 images on this site, in four or five sizes each and as many as five different presentations (loose, matted-only, framed, gallery-wrap canvas, and gallery float). It is impossible to keep every size and presentation of every image in stock at all times. Accordingly, most of the items I offer for sale on are hand-built one at a time as customers order them. It normally requires between five and ten business days to complete an order, but it may take longer if I am on an extended shoot. Shipping time is in addition to these figures. To get specific information about delivery time for a particular item, please call 303 499-3009 or email me. I will do my best to accommodate rush orders. Thanks for your patience!

All photographic prints, regardless of presentation (loose, matted-only, framed, etc.) are delicate and require careful packaging to be shipped safely. Accordingly, all online purchases will have a 15 percent charge added for shipping and handling. This shipping charge only covers shipments to the continental United States. Please contact me for a quote on shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or to international destinations. If you would like to pick up your print at my home office in Boulder rather than have it shipped, please call 303 499-3009 (office) or 720 320-7126 (mobile) to complete your purchase and make arrangements for pickup. Alternatively, I can deliver prints in the Denver metro area for $1.00 per mile based on round-trip mileage.

All matted-only and framed prints larger than 24x30 inches, all gallery-wrap canvases and gallery-float prints larger than 30x40, and all framed panoramas wider than 30 inches, are too big to be shipped via FedEx ground and too big to fit in any standard-size art box. While these prints can be shipped, they require a custom-made crate and the cost is exorbitant ($300+). I strongly suggest that all customers who live outside the Denver metro area and who wish to purchase a print larger than the maximums specified above buy the loose version and take it to the custom frame shop of their choosing. Loose prints can be shipped rolled at the standard shipping rate of 15 percent of the retail price. I will gladly provide detailed instructions to the framer on the moulding I use and my preferred method of mounting and framing the piece.

I use elegant hardwood frames on all of my framed prints. The image above right shows the frame I use for the smallest framed size of this image. I use proportionally larger frames with the same color finish for larger prints. The moulding shape will vary, depending on the size. For more information on the frames I recommend for different size prints, please visit my framing page.

Studio Moulding frame 353-125 cherry Studio Moulding Forte 4934 mahogany-finish picture frame Studio Moulding Forte 4834 mahogany-finish picture frame

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