Here we are, and finally we have arrived at the Photo project that I’ve mentioned several weeks ago. You probably forgot all about it, but the suspense has been on my mind as I was leading up to this sequence of events and take you along for the trip. If you followed my last couple of posts, you know by now what Winnemucca Lake looks like, and I will share with you yet another view in the form of a night shot. Earlier in the day, we had backpacked up to this amazing spot to spend the night and enjoy my first full moon adventure. We woke up just in time to photograph the magic hour of golden glow and were now waiting for the full moon to rise over the ridge. The last light was fading and after it disappeared, it took with it what seemed like all the warmth of the sun. The temperatures were dropping as I layered up, preparing to enjoy the moonlit landscape. I watched the mountains to the left of the lake where the moon would rise, and even though all daylight was gone, it never got fully dark enough that I couldn’t see. Once the moon came over the crest, it would be even brighter and no flashlight was needed. I walked freely through the area around the tent, making out rocks and boulders, tree remnants and other trip hazards with ease.
With the tripod in place and all digits dialed into the camera (thank you Marcus and my boss for your help with this), I waited and watched the sky transform. As the shades of darkness intensified, more and more stars appeared. I could still see the clouds moving through, leftovers from the day that brought threatening thunderstorms that never came to be. They surely added drama to my pictures and I love the big, white, puffy clouds. And then it finally happened and like a halo, the moon broke over the ridge. Beams of light hit Mount Round Top and faintly illuminated the area. The lake was lying mostly dark and it would take hours to catch a moon reflection in the calm waters. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay up that late. The prior nap felt good, but I was still tired and it was getting increasingly colder. I probably would have been OK hiking but instead I was standing in place and with little movement to keep warm. I took a few first shots at different exposure lengths and was excited to be doing it. I shared my successes and findings and allowed the excitement to fill me. After all, it was my first time photographing a somewhat dark night sky with nothing to focus on.
I found Polaris, the North Star that night and what better place to say hello, then out here in the wild! There it was, high up in the sky, shining bright and twinkling among st the constellations. I felt reminiscent as I stood and watched the symbol in the sky that reminded me about my “True North“. About the things that matter and the magic that is to be found in everything. Like a child I was watching in awe while standing in silence. A shooting star was streaking the dark as I closed my eyes and made a wish. I was by myself by now, alone to admire the beauty and serenity, while I let it engulf me and carry me to a place of wonder and magic. Here and there I took a picture for later review to analyze exposure time and settings. I was excited about these first pictures, the new photo project and learning a new technique. Honestly, I thought I would take many more than I did, but I forgot to consider that the ambiance and the power of the moon would capture this moon-child’s heart, mind and spirit to be completely still instead. Not a bad trade off and I’m not complaining. I can live with this being my first nighttime shot.