Being out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night – does not seem all that strange for a photographer. I have certainly looked back at some of the places I have been and specifically when I have been there and thought to myself, “Maybe that was not the best decision on my part.” It might be the thought that as photographers we are neutral third-party observers and immune to our surroundings. With the recent accounts of tourists and news crews being assaulted and robbed of their video and camera gear in the San Francisco Bay area, it is just a reminder to all photographers to be vigilant of their surroundings whether they are in a seemingly safe location or out in the Denali National Park wilderness.
With all that said, being at a reservoir in the middle of the night with other like-minded photographers is pretty safe. Sure, the idea was to capture some meteors during the annual Perseids meteor shower. While it certainly was not difficult to spot the meteors, getting it on camera was a whole other challenge, especially for those shooting long exposure and using the camera’s built-in noise reduction (NR) feature, which essentially doubles the time for each shot. There were a few times when the camera’s shutter would close and “lock” the camera during the NR phase, during which a meteor would streak across the sky in the location I was shooting.
Of course, there are other shots to take while in the dark. For me, it is the milky way and maybe a mountain ridge or trees in the foreground. Fortunately, looking back west towards the Central Valley gave me this composition here.
As is true for most of us living in urban or suburban areas, the light pollution from street lights just does not allow for decent conditions to shoot night skies. While it may not be feasible to drive 3-4 hours to find true dark skies, it is helpful to use the Dark Skies web map to find a location sufficient for night sky photography.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO6400, 18mm, f/3.5, 20 sec
Bear River Reservoir (CA), Milky Way, Central Valley Glow. Pioneer, CA. August 13, 2015. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.