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Capturing the Milky Way: Kodachrome Basin by Night

This Utah state park deserves the Kodak film-inspired title, even after dark.
“The night skies over here are some of the best I’ve seen.”

The name Kodachrome speaks to a photographer’s mecca. And even if Kodachrome film has all-but-disappeared in the digital age, the landscape of Utah’s Kodachrome Basin State Park — and its beckoning night sky — is timeless.

Tips on how to take pictures of stars:

  • Preparation is key: For professional and amateur photographers like Prajit Ravindran, preparation for a night time photography session begins with an understanding of the earth’s revolution, the moon cycles and a constellation map in hand.
  • Scout your location: The hours leading up to sunset consist of scoping out unique formations, imagining the moon’s rising path and preparing a basecamp. As the sun descends, the discovery continues. New locations and angles reveal themselves as the evening sky begins its transformative traverse across the landscape.
  • Be ready for the darkness: Another component, perhaps the most important, is darkness. Not just any type of night sky darkness, but the blackest-of-black kind you only find far away from the world’s oft-consuming light pollution in one of Utah's certified dark sky parks.

Night sky crew | Photo: Prajit Ravindran
Night sky crew | Photo: Prajit Ravindran

With a growing number of certified International Dark Sky Parks across the state — currently the most of anywhere in the world — Ravindran identified Utah as the ideal place to test the creative passion for astrophotography he discovered seven years ago.

“The night skies over here are some of the best I’ve seen,” he says.

On a recent trip to Kodachrome Basin State Park, he described the park as an ideal location, crowdless and full of “unique shots nobody has seen before.”

Now a resident of Utah, Ravindran often travels around Utah — from Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and the Spiral Jetty — to share an intimate creative experience with close friends, or to enjoy an evening of solitude with only the transportive experience of photographing a star-filled sky to keep him company.

For Ravindran, part of the excitement is putting his own spin on night photography. A camera set to a long, slow exposure is essential for capturing the Milky Way in all its detail, but a burst of inspiration might cause him to pull out a bright flash, the immediacy of which reminds him that, for a quick moment, he is capturing a spectacle that is as old as time itself.

Contemplating the celestial sphere gives Ravindran a cherished escape from the world’s pressures and “the daily stress of life.” Under the night skies, time passes as slowly as the shutter click on a drawn out exposure. Night photography challenges you to slow down, to unwind (unless you’re winding up an old case of Kodachrome film) and, most importantly, to look up.


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We at love good storytelling. We love meeting the people and discovering the places that define the Life Elevated experience. You'll find those stories here. But we also provide great information to help you plan your trip. Above all, we celebrate Utah's incredible quality of life. The Utah Office of Tourism promotes tourism into the state through advertising and media contacts. We are an office within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Kodachrome Basin State Park

More Dark Skies

Dark Sky Parks

Dark Sky Parks

Long after the last drop of twilight fades to black, the next phase of the the earth's rotation begins to shine. It is a part of the 24-hour cycle that many developed places have lost to the constant shine of the cityscape — most Americans live in an area where they cannot see the Milky Way due to lighting from cities. But no matter where you are in Utah, there's a certified International Dark Sky Park nearby.

Red Rock & Dark Skies: Stargazing the National Parks

Red Rock & Dark Skies: Stargazing the National Parks

Do everything you’d normally do on a National Park road trip, but when the stars come out, so do you. Red rock by day and serene dark skies by night, this stargazing trip includes nighttime splendor at certified International Dark Sky Parks.

Dark Skies of Bryce Canyon

Dark Skies of Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is the ultimate place to experience the splendor of the night sky. Protected by a special force of park rangers and volunteer Utah astronomy enthusiasts, Bryce Canyon is known as the last grand sanctuary of natural darkness and has one of the nation's oldest astronomy programs.

Quick Fact

Of the 50 accredited or in-process International Dark Sky Parks and Communities that are part of a catalogue of the finest dark skies in the developed world (called The Great Western Starry Way), fully half of them are in Utah.

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