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Heavenly night above an Aggie landmark

Brandon Cozart '03 September 6, 2016 12:55 PM updated: September 6, 2016 2:43 PM

Editor’s note: When this image began going viral on social media, we asked the photographer, Association of Former Students web designer Brandon Cozart ’03, to share how he captured it. Read on to learn how an unexpected glow warmed the Aggie Barn in this lovely photograph.

All Aggies know and love the famous Aggie Barn in Reagan, about an hour outside College Station. For some time, I had been wanting to get out there to shoot photos, and recently started researching how to get shots of the Milky Way. So after looking at dark sky maps and star charts, I found that the barn is in a pretty prime spot to have the Milky Way as a backdrop. Now I just needed clear skies and a new moon, and that opportunity came this past Friday, Sept. 2.

A second shot from earlier that night before the clouds cleared out.

Because the barn is on private property, I contacted the owners, Joe ’85 and Tressa Swinnea, to see if I could come out to the barn that night to try and get the Milky Way. After receiving special permission to be out there, I arrived around 9:30 and shot for about an hour and a half. I was fully prepared to shoot a range of different exposures thinking I’d have to do some stacking in post, and I had brought a flashlight to light-paint the barn during long exposures.

Turns out, though, that because the barn is just off Highway 6, and so many Aggies were driving in for the UCLA game (WHOOP!), the light from traffic was enough to paint the barn for me (sorry, trusty flashlight. Maybe next time).

So both of these shots ended up being single, 30-second exposures. Focal length was 11mm and aperture was f/2.8.

Just a couple more notes about the Aggie Barn: It was originally owned by Thaggard Kirkpatrick ’24, and was first clothed in maroon and white in 1980. As mentioned above, today the barn is lovingly cared for by Joe ’85 and Tressa Swinnea and their family. You can find more info about the barn at

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