Friday, March 10, 2017

While you were asleep

Insomnia is a wonderful thing to have.
Sometimes.

I woke up for about the ... well let's just say I woke up and since I stop counting the times I wake up at night and only count the times that I actually sleep more than 4 hours in a row, I just got up.

The moonlight was brilliant and the clouds had disappeared while I was sleeping. I quickly got dressed and tapped the smartphone to see what time it was. 3 AM!
Well. Still, the moon was out and the night outside looked like a black and photo.

I swiped my little magic phone and took a peek at the weather. Cold, clear, and a north west wind of 10 mph, with a wind chill of -7. Ouch. That was pretty cold.

But the moon light was so brilliant!
I warmed up a cup of coffee from yesterday morning and gathered a few items. My sturdy tripod, extra camera body, and a hand warmer which I broke open and stuffed in a pocket.
I hit the remote start on the Subaru and slid my Nikon with the nifty 50 into the bag, just in case.

I was going to experiment with the Olympus again and had hoped to have another moon lit night.

I pulled on a pair of my polertec fleece PJ bottoms to go over my lightweight long johns.
A fleece hoody went on top. Gloves, warm hat, the fox one with the ears flaps would do nicely.
My trusty coveralls and insulated boots.

I grabbed my headlamp and stuck it on. It is very useful in helping the camera to find something to focus on and it leaves my hands free while I am monkeying around with the settings.

I softly opened the door and stepped outside. The tail lights of the 'Ru greeted me as well as the silver glow of the moon.
I was awake and the rest of the world was not.
[Well unless they were working the midnight shift somewhere]

I really had wanted to go out across the field and find a nice tree to use in a photo, but the temperatures were pretty cold and I wanted to be able to get back into a warm car.
The other night when I was out with Lauren it had been much warmer and only a whisper of the wind. That had still made the wide open very cold.

I drove up to my 'sunrise' spot and thought a photo of my neighbor's cattle gates and fence would make a nice moonlit shot.
Eeeks! In my hurry I'd forgotten to turn off my headlamp when I pressed the shutter. You can see the eerie blueish light from the LED headlamp.

I decided to do it again.
Much better!
However the moon light was so strong that you can see my shadow next to the post's shadow.

Here is a similar shot at sunrise in November.

By the time I waited for the second shot, the cold brisk air was getting to me. As the camera was 'thinking' or developing its shot, I moved into the car and started it up.
The cold felt brutal on my bare hands. 

I didn't have a good isolated tree to focus on anywhere on the ridge so I decided to see if I had enough moonlight to take a shot in the valley on the bridge. It was closer to 4 AM now and if I didn't take the chance down there, there would be some stray vehicles.

I parked and walked back to the bridge. I set the camera up and realized that the only gas station within 15 miles of any direction would 'pollute' the scene with its light. However since the moon was dropping behind the hill in back of me, I thought I'd give it a go.

It turned out okay, but I should have thought out the whole shot better. I should have come here first while the moon was still up behind me.

I took another shot in the other direction and had a difficult time getting a focus.
I should have had a different shot here too, but I was trying to work quickly.

However the yard light gave off an eerie green glow, the moon was still bright just behind the trees and the creek reflected a lot of light.

I guess if you don't try things and make mistakes you won't be prepared for the next time.

I took my frozen hands and placed them on the heater vents. I felt around in the camera bag for the hand warmer. I couldn't find it. Frustrated and thinking I forgot it, I moved on down to the next bridge.

I was chasing the moon. And the moon was beating me.
I tried another water shot but it didn't work. I knew I should have pointed the camera west up the gravel road that had a faint glow from the light, but didn't. My camera's battery light came on blinking orange.

I'd killed it.
Thankful that I had remembered to bring another one, I hopped back in the car and turned it on, letting the heat blast me while I changed batteries and carefully put things in their place. 

It was time to go back to the ridge and see if I could summon up another good shot.

I swapped to the long lens and hoped I would get the moon as it set.

The light was fading very quickly now.
I turned the tripod south and did a Hail Mary shot.

I was shivering. I was pretty sure that nothing would show up so I left my light on and shined the gravel road.


Well, as it turns out, I got a midnight blue sky, trees, star trails and some light pollution as well as the gravel road.
Nothing to write home about or brag about, but it was a very important lesson in night shooting.

I looked to the east. It was now 4:45. Twilight would be in about 45 minutes. The moon dropped below the horizon in a large lopsided ball of orange.
I shivered. My hands ached.
I got in the car and thought about waiting for sunrise.

And then I thought about how nice a cup of coffee would be.

I started up, cranked up the heat and headed for home.

What will this night bring?
More cold for sure, it is supposed to be only 7 degrees.

But if the sky clears.
Well, that remains to be seen.

Oh yes, when I got home and took off my coveralls, I found the hand warmer. It sure felt nice in my hands. I smiled and clutched it while I gathered things for morning coffee.

I watched the day begin from the kitchen table while sipping a hot cup of coffee, still in my PJ bottoms.

I mulled a few things over in my head. 
I wanted to do it again.

I was hooked.



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