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  • Tom

Milky Way Rises Behind the Ancient Bristlecone Pines 6/17/2023

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Early Saturday evening on June 17, 2023, the Milky Way rose behind these gnarled, other-worldly Great Basin bristlecone pines in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California.

These ancient trees are impressive up close. Their twisted limbs seem to give you a sense of their age, and indeed Great Basin bristle cone pines are said to be the oldest non-clonal organism known. The oldest in the forest is the aptly named Methuselah tree located in a grove just to the east of this location. That tree is said to be 4,854 years old! Standing here, accompanied by other photographers trying to capture a moment in time, I really felt like I was somewhere special and was lucky to spend a relative blip of time in this amazing place.

Behind these Great Basin bristlecone pines, the Milky Way was rising over the hill through some colorful green sky glow. I wanted to capture the moment the streak of our home galaxy peaked over the horizon behind these trees and was lucky to have great conditions on this night. Hopefully sometime soon when I don't have another photo to take on the same night, I can get the arching Milky Way above these same trees. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that opportunity.

This photo is dedicated to the amazing life that Nancy Junker, a pioneering computer programmer and all-around incredible woman led. She recently passed and was the mother of a very dear friend of mine, Otto Junker. Nancy loved the outdoors and spent much time among the beautiful trees of the Midwest United States. This one is for you Nancy <3

Pinus longaeva, Great Basin bristlecone pine Wiki:

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest website:

Technical Info:

Full disclosure, there was a sign that is below these trees that has been photoshopped out, I felt it really detracted from the overall scene I was trying to capture. If you’ve been here you’ll know what I’m referring to.

Location: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA

Date: 6/17/2023

~42 frame panorama 13 sec @6400 ISO

Camera: Canon 6D Hutech UV/IR Mod

Lens: Canon EF 35mm f/1.2L II USM

Reveal Focus Filter by David Lane

Processing: Photoshop CC, PTGui



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