A 'Tempest' Grows in Arizona's Vermilion Cliffs

time lapse photos of stars highlight a distant tree


Nestled in the same area as Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, northern Arizona's Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is one of the most uniquely beautiful landscapes in the world.

In addition to its striking iron oxide-red cliffs, this area is also distinguished for its surreal hoodoo rock formations, prehistoric petroglyphs, and an impressive array of lithified sand dunes (thanks to a Twitter follower for pointing out our error in mixing up lithification with petrifaction).

time lapse photographers stand on mountaintop
Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović. SkyGlowProject.com

Simply put, it's the perfect place for a time-lapse of epic proportions — including the one above titled "Tempest Vermilion," which was shot and produced by filmmakers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinović.

The pair, who met in college and frequently collaborate on projects, spent two days and two nights among the Vermilion Cliffs to capture the footage, even as fierce thunderstorms, fog, and high winds threatened to thwart them.

Heffernan writes on his Vimeo page that "despite the adversity, the tempest broke and some incredible stars shone through to put on a show." Needless to say, it was this miraculous turn of events that inspired the name of the video.

The visual treat is actually part two of a time-lapse trilogy being shot and produced in collaboration with BBC Earth. Don't forget to watch part one, titled "WAVE LIGHT" and keep an eye out for the final installment of the trilogy.

Continue below for more stunning stills from "Tempest Vermilion."

Tempest vermilion: Beautiful sky

Interested in helping these two time-lapse artists in their endeavors? Consider supporting their crowdfunding campaign for their SKYGLOW project on Kickstarter!

This unique campaign will enable Heffernan and Mehmedinović to team up and "explore the most exotic dark sky locations in North America while examining the complex biological and psychological impacts of light pollution on society."

Swirly time lapsed star trails
Green glowing sky