20.04.2014 - 20.04.2014
With a huge plastic flashlight clenched between my teeth, I continued fiddling with the legs of my tripod in a struggle to level my camera. I tried to shield the excess illumination of yellow light so that I did not disturb the other visitors at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. Except for a few red lightbulbs on the wall, close to the ground, I could not see anything other than occasional car headlights speeding across the highway.
The camera set up process (in almost complete darkness) definitely frustrated me, but when I looked up to the heavens through my camera lens, I quickly remembered why I came to Marfa in the first place. Thousands of stars decorated the unspoiled desert sky. And what a spectacular sight it was. My heart softened, and I changed my game plan: Instead of putting pressure on myself to take the best possible photos of the mysterious Marfa Lights, I decided to just have fun with my camera, no matter how the results turned out.
I started experimenting my camera settings, and I even purposely swiveled the tripod during 30-second long exposures in order to create artsy effects with car headlights and stars in the night sky. Hey, since I had not yet spotted the Marfa Lights, I decided to try to create my own special effects. Some photos came out grainy because I had to bump up the ISO very high in order to get stars to show up visibly in the shot. With some other shots, I felt pleasantly surprised by the cool swirls and streaks of light.
After a couple hours, my friend asked a man next to us if he had ever seen the Marfa Lights. A long-time local resident, the man said that, yes, he had seen the Marfa Lights, and in fact, he was looking at them right now. And there they were - my friend and I had been staring at them the entire time. Right in front of us. Low to the ground, three yellow lights (resembling stars or distant street lights) each seemed to subtly move in and out of the horizon (see photo below).
The entire time, my friend and I thought those lights were from a regional airport or some other kind of facility, partially because we could see a close by flashing red light (which itself is not a Marfa Light). That is the thing about the Marfa Lights, though. For many years, people have looked at the night sky around this area, and wondered "What is that?". Car headlights? Pranksters with flashlights? An unexplained phenomenon? I will say this: My friend asked several Marfa residents if they had ever seen the mystery lights, and most of them said yes. They all seemed to believe in the moving lights as a real wonder (and these folks all seemed very down to earth, normal people).
As I looked at the Marfa Lights, I felt puzzled. I am very glad that I got to see them, but it was not what I expected. Not that I knew what to imagine in the first place. I wish I could have stayed out there longer, and/or listened a professional speak at length regarding the features of the Marfa Lights and theories about their mysterious occurrence. Perhaps someday I will return to the Marfa Lights Viewing Center with my camera (and a better flashlight) for another attempt to view and photograph the mystery orbs in the West Texas night sky.