Faulty GPS devices, photographing a meteor, pop culture species and more

Picture This: Scott Rinckenberger captures a fleeting meteor

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

The regularly scheduled evening camping shot that I had planned for our time in Joshua Tree was made infinitely more exciting when a meteor exploded in the sky just after I had triggered a 30 second exposure on my camera. The resulting image is a stroke of good luck that, as a photographer, you dream of, but never expect to actually have happen. This was truly a once in a lifetime shot. Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

A little bit of exploration in the area to the west of Zion yielded a beautiful campsite atop a mesa which provided beautiful morning and evening scenes as we looked back at the massive rock formations that make up the west edge of the park. Near Zion National Park, Utah.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

As the moon continued to drop on the horizon, I drove south to try to find the perfect window to shoot that last moments of the moonset. When the full moon dropped into the notch of the Teepee Pillar on the Grand Teton, I whipped out the tripod and had time for a few lucky snaps before the full moon departed for the last time on my month long trip. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

Made famous by Ansel Adams' iconic photograph, this view of the Tetons from the Snake River Overlook is a must see for any landscape lover. I was fortunate to find that my predawn arrival yielded an amazing scene as the setting full moon lit the landscape and reflected magically on the meandering Snake River. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

One of the joys of autumn is the mix of weather that can be found. The day before I shot this image, I was relaxing on the beach next to the Merced River in flip-flops and surf shorts. Less than 24 hours later, a snow storm had moved through the valley and coated the upper half of Yosemite with a blanket of white. As the sun began to burn through the clouds, the landscape turned into a fantasy world of fog, color, light and snow. Yosemite National Park, California.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

Angels Landing is perhaps the most radical federally sanctioned hike in America. The precipitous ridge line climbs swiftly to a high plateau directly overlooking Zion Canyon. While there are chains to hold while climbing the exposed ridge, everywhere you look is an opportunity to walk directly to the edge of the 1500' cliff and test your equilibrium as you peer down the sheer drop to the beautiful Zion canyon below. Zion National Park, Utah.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

One of the joys of autumn is the mix of weather that can be found. The day before I shot this image, I was relaxing on the beach next to the Merced River in flip-flops and surf shorts. Less than 24 hours later, a snow storm had moved through the valley and coated the upper half of Yosemite with a blanket of white. As the sun began to burn through the clouds, the landscape turned into a fantasy world of fog, color, light and snow. Yosemite National Park, California.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

Yellowstone National Park is a proverbial candy store to the outdoor photographer, and I had endless entertainment everywhere I pointed my lens. And while I got the standard photos of geysers and waterfalls, this view of the Yellowstone River from the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone struck me as particularly interesting, and provided me with the satisfaction of making an image of this iconic river that felt new and fresh. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

As I headed south from Seattle on my fall road trip, Mount Rainier would have been the go-to destination. Fortunately, the federal shutdown and subsequent closure of the National Park prompted some route finding creativity and I ended up exploring the amazing landscape around Mount Saint Helens; a spectacular testament to the awesome power of nature. Mount Saint Helens, Washington

Scott Rinckenberger

Scott Rinckenberger

While Mount Rainier is the best know mountain in Washington State, the most photogenic award may go to Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades. Early season snow had recently blanketed the mountain, creating an ideal scene for illustrating the changing of seasons. Mount Shuksan, Washington.


Seeing a meteor streak through the night sky takes a certain amount of luck. Turn away for a second and you could miss it. Capturing one on film is even harder.

So when photographer Scott Rinckenberger set out to shoot fall landscapes in the West, he wasn't expecting to capture the fleeting image of a shooting star. But when it happened, he knew he'd captured something rare. As part of our occasional series, Picture This, Rinckenberger joined Take Two to talk about capturing the luckiest shot of his career.  

Interview Highlights:

On the genesis of his photography trip:
"I generally spend my falls spending a lot of time in the outdoors, backpacking and climbing and that sort of thing, but late this summer I  suffered a shoulder injury on my mountain bike and was sort of unable to go through my normal procedures, which are pretty active. As a way to keep myself busy and to keep myself creatively inspired, I decided I would hit the road and just go out and try to track down the best landscape and the best weather I could starting in Seattle with a final destination of Joshua Tree National Park down in Southern California."

On what happened his last night in Joshua Tree:
"I guess I was just looking to get a shot that sort of encapsulated the feeling of camping out in the desert. I think Joshua Tree is such a spectacular landscape. It's just such a wonderful way to spend the night, watching the stars and hanging out by a campfire that I was just looking for a shot that did a good job of sort of capturing that essence. So it was set up to capture the night sky with the brilliant starscape that was going on, as well as the beautiful camp we had set up among the rocks. It was going to be a good shot, but it turned out to be so much more."

On when he realized he captured something amazing:
"I had the camera set up on a tripod up on top of the roof of my truck and I would go up there and start an exposure and then jump off of the truck and run down to the campfire and actually sit in the picture. It was during one of those moments of sitting while my camera was doing a long exposure that all of sudden the sky was though lighting had gone off, like incredibly bright flashes in the sky.

"Myself and Hayden, who was my friend who was with me, we both looked over our shoulders to see what the heck was going because it was just a spectacular flash and then instantly I realized that A.) something spectacular had happened in the night sky, and B.) that we had to get back to our initial pose we were holding so we didn't make ourself blurry in the picture."

On his road trip routine:
"Mine was pretty regimented in terms of trying to make the most of the time out there, so it was a lot of getting up really early, getting up in the cold and dark, and finding really good locations to shoot photos from and shooting throughout the good light in the morning . Then sometimes in the midday, when they light gets less ideal for photography, it makes a good time to travel or a good time to explore or set up shops for the evening or for the next day."


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