August Activity: Laguna Meadows at Night

For our first in-person activity of the year, we are going to photograph the Milky Way above the Laguna Meadows. This activity is ideal for both our members who do not go to Bodie State Park at night with our vice-chair Mark, as well as those who do go and wish to practice immediately before heading up there.

As usual, this is not a Sierra Club outing. You may join, leave, participate at your will on the scheduled evening. Please continue reading for the details.

Note: inclement weather (monsoon storms) will cancel this activity.


  • Date: Saturday, August 7, 2021
  • Time: Meet 7 PM on location
  • Meeting Point: Penny Pines Trailhead on Sunrise Highway (Forest Service; Google Maps)
  • Distance to final location (hike; one way): 1.25 miles / 2 kilometers

From the Penny Pines Trailhead, it’s an easy ~30 minute hike to the upper (northern end) of the Laguna Meadows, from where we will have an open view to the south, with the Milky Way arching above the meadow (see photo). The foreground consists solely of dry grass and a few rocks here and there. In other words, there’s no necessity for coordinating any light painting, because there’s nothing to light-paint! 😉


  • Sunset: 7:38 PM
  • Moonset: 7:33 PM
  • Twilight: 7:38 – 9:10 PM (Civil, Nautical, Astronomical each ~30 minutes)
  • After 9:10 PM it will be DARK night (no moon)
  • We will wrap up and head back to our cars around 9:30 – 10 PM

Our timing will give us enough opportunity to set up tripods, cameras, and talk about the basic requirements of night photography (exposure times, ISO settings, potentially exposure stacking) while we wait for the Milky Way to become more and more visible as twilight progresses.


  • Full vaccination against COVID-19
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Sturdy tripod
  • Wide angle lens, at least moderately fast
    • full frame: ~14-30mm; crop: ~10-20mm; m4/3: 7-14mm
    • aperture f/2.8 to f/4
  • Remote control for your camera
  • Sturdy shoes (no sneakers or sandals!)
  • Long pants & long sleeves recommended
  • Bug repellent
  • Check the weather & bring adequate clothing (it can get below 50°F up there even in August)
  • Water, snacks

For a primer, please also take a look at the information posted in our 2019 August activity invitation where you’ll find basic knowledge about exposure times etc.

If you have any questions, please drop us a note.

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