For years, I’ve been wandering out at night, looking up at the sky – weather permitting.
Sometimes I’ll even venture out with camera gear packed; ready to do battle with that evil monster known as the Light Pollution Dragon, native to these eastern U.S. shores…
Alas, equipped as I am, I am untutored in the finer points of battle with such a pervasive beast.
All too frequently I return, having once again failed in my quest for the elusive picture that one can stare at for days – gazing back at a universe that’s been all too free to gaze at us first.
The stars exert a particularly strong pull upon this feeble mortal frame.
I don’t know why this is so.
Perhaps it’s from coming of photographic age in an astronomical Golden Age of images.
Brought to us from the Hubble, and missions to other worlds.
From earth-bound telescopes of ever increasing power, and resolution.
Perhaps it’s a leftover from a lifetime of reading speculative fiction, and wanting more than anything to travel to these other worlds we can only, as yet, imagine.
Whatever the reason, I’m keenly aware of the handicap of where I live.
I understand there are some ‘tricks of the trade’ for shooting under such conditions.
And I’ve tried to implement them, But to no avail.
I simply don’t yet know what I’m doing.
But when this recent trip to Wyoming came along, I was pumped.
Psyched. Stoked. Amped.
Cause now we’re talking about the land of really dark skies.
Okay, technically, not really dark.
But a whole heck of a lot darker than anything I’ve ever seen under a clear sky.
Once more our hero rode forth into battle.
Armed with his trusty gear and a confidence that was surely more bravado than actually earned.
The above picture is one of the first attempts I made, once the skies got truly dark.
The funny thing is, a level of light I was having trouble finding my way around in, a camera shooting 30 second exposures seemed to find quite bright.
There are numerous shots in my files of a sky much too bright to get the kind of definition I was looking for. But there were stars in those images, none the less.
When I was first able to see stars on the back of the camera, I seem to remember giggling like a child. It was a long-sought-after moment.
All that being said, there are serious problems with the above image; which really cannot be ascertained on this blog. The blog background is too bright, and it doesn’t allow one to zoom the image.
That’s the galaxy where we live.
Rising above Jackson Lake and the Grand Tetons National Park.
I spent a second night at this same spot, and learned even more about the process.
Like how the viewing was better the second night.
Still too much noise in the image.
Still a long way to go in order to properly learn how to develop such pictures.
But the pictures were mine.
I took them.
Not NASA. Not the Hubble.
Not some other person, for the purposes of ‘teaching’ me how to develop it.
I can’t tell you how that thought fills me with delight.
I have seen these stars for myself.
The same as mankind has seen them since we first looked into the heavens.
The only difference is that now we can keep a record of our viewing.
I only (ONLY?!?) got to spend three nights outside.
Each night the shots got better.
Sheer dumb luck is what I call it.
Apparently I do know enough about all of this to get some results.
More likely, I now know enough to become dangerous to the patience of those who have to put up with me…
I apologize in advance!
The above image is mine!
Mine, mine, mine!!!
I’m fabulously wealthy…