52 Weeks Project | Week 8 | The Stargazer

The Stargazer

8/52

This post deserves a song. Press play. 

This week is all about space and the accumulating possibilities ahead for the human race. I'm not an expert in space aeronautics, nuclear energy, physics, or quantum mechanics but the topics always have interested me. I get pulled in anytime anyone mentions anything about - what is being called - the final frontier of humanity because I feel as though it embraces optimism in its truest form and embraces the potentials we have as a species. And that alone excites me. 

Not to mention, this past week has been completely dedicating my free time to taking advantage of the clear skies, no moon, and calm weather. Because let's be honest, it's been rainy for the majority of this year! Which has been hard to attempt any sort of astrophotography for me (Fun Fact: One of my 2017 goals is getting into astrophotography)

So, let's recap this week.

On Saturday I went to Forecastle Festival in Louisville. After getting my fill there, I left a little early to head home just before sunset. On my drive home, I noticed that the sky was completely clear. So keeping in mind that astrophotography goal, and having an obnoxious opportunity right in front of my face, I had to stop over somewhere and get some photos. 

Now, that photo above really isn't a GREAT Milky Way shot. There are a lot of things I did wrong because I didn't take the time to get my focus right or settings. But it's mainly because I was out in the middle of no where Kentucky, alone. Getting out of my car and setting up for this shot took a LOT of nerves on my part. Because being out in the middle of no where in the complete darkness was, uneasy. And I actually had encounters with deer 4 different times in the 30 minutes I dedicated to getting some shots that scared the living daylights out of me. And one actually hissed at me. "Deers hiss?!?!" Yes. Click here to hear what that sounds like haha.

So anyway, when I got home and edited this, being the perfectionist that I am, I was greatly disappointed in my shots. Which has been the outcome anytime I have taken photos of the stars. The one above being the best I got that night. 

So, to bury the disappoint and tackle new shots with more patience and time, I did some research to see what the weather was going to be like this week and well, Tuesday and Wednesday forecasted clear weather BOTH nights! And I had no shoots scheduled!!

WHAT. 

So, I asked my sister to come along with me this time so I wouldn't be alone and we trekked out after our babies were all asleep (and our husbands with them safely). I made a promise to myself to find the darkest spot I could without driving hours and hours away and make up for that Saturday night in Kentucky. And well, we did. 

And of course, an hour and 50 bug bites later, I grabbed not only the shots above, but the ones below the later it got into the night. THESE are ones I'm very proud of. And the first shots I've personally taken that I can even consider being Astrophotography

These pictures are the first time I've ever been able to get my focus right on the night sky. I've been able to capture stars for years, playing with settings and doing a whole lot of trial and error, but could never the focus which was greatly discouraging. But I finally figured it out and captured images that I want to share with the world! And makes me fall in love with photography ALL OVER AGAIN.

THIS. This is why I love doing what I do. Even though I've been doing photography for 10 years, it still challenges me and no matter how much I learn and grow, there will always be more to know. 

Now, the photo I ended up using for this week's picture was actually taken last night. When my sister and I went out together, I didn't get a clear shot of just me by myself. I was so taken by just being in the moment, I forgot. But I love what I captured with my sister. 

With this being a self portrait project though, I needed a shot of myself. 

So I went back out Wednesday night since it was forecasted clear AGAIN. 

I went solo again, which ended up being a little terrifying again. But I was a lot closer to home and in a place I'm very familiar with, Caeser's Creek State Park. I set up the shot near the beach area actually in the parking lot using my car to set up my tripod for some shots. And then placing the camera on the ground for the final shots. 

Now, while I was setting up for the shots to be taken on the ground, I was laying down on the ground with my camera, headlamp on so I could see what I was doing. Once I was ready to get up and set up in the shot, I noticed FIVE raccoon gathered about 4 feet away from me in the darkness completely curious what I was doing. FIVE. When my light shined on them though, they scattered quickly into a drain pipe and out the other side into the woods nearby. It was then that I realized an whole bunch of animals were standing in the woods watching me because about 6 more pairs of eyes glowed in the trees. It felt like I was in this scene from PeeWee's Big Adventure (CLICK).

So, the shots above kind of make me laugh because the camera would start taking the photo and then I'd hear something scurry next to me and couldn't stay still for the shot LOL. Needless to say, I'm happy that I took the time to get these shots, but I probably will NOT be doing this again by myself. 

Look at that Milky Way though <3<3 (sooooo worth ittttt)

I didn't edit in the Milky Way into any of these shots. I used what was naturally there. In this week's video, I do a pretty good breakdown for what equipment, settings, and steps I did for planning these shots out more effectively. Be sure to give that a watch below! (and watch to the end for a little outtake haha)