I have not had much experience with Astrophotography but I really wanted to shoot the Milky Way in Yosemite. My first day there I had already been up since 4:00 am preparing for the sunrise, but I managed to find a second wind to keep on going and stay up to shoot at midnight. After dinner, and in the dark with headlamps as our guiding light, we hiked up Sentinel Dome to the location we had scouted earlier in the day. I was well aware, that unlike in Switzerland where I live, bears inhabit the Yosemite woods. I am very afraid of bears! Anyone who knows me, knows that I take being in bear territory very seriously. Having had encounters with both Grizzly and black bears alike, has made me very respectful when traveling in their space, especially during cub season. As I was thinking about this walking up the trail and breathing through my fear, I saw a pair of red glowing eyes looking directly at me. I almost passed out! I held my breath for what seemed like forever until I could make out the faint lines of a deer in my headlamp's glow. It's amazing how the range of emotions can go from sheer terror to ecstatic relief in a matter of seconds. On the remainder of the hike we were accompanied by the Eagles playing loudly on my phone. Talking the entire way as we summited was out of the question and I needed a strategy to alert the bears of our presence. It worked beautifully. Well for me at least. On the way down, Michael, my Ansel Adams guide, told me he didn't like the Eagles! Who doesn't like the Eagles?!
Once we arrived at the top of Sentinel Dome there was a lone photographer but he was soon on his way down and we had the entire dome to ourselves for hours enjoying the milky way dance around the midnight sky. Hard to believe that there were hundreds of thousands of people somewhere in the valley below. As I mentioned, photographing the Milky Way is not something I am familiar with but with a bit of research and patience I found it to be a great experience, especially as I chose to shoot it with a fallen Jeffrey Pine in the foreground made famous by Ansel Adams.
I enjoyed photographing the milky way so much I decided to try it again the second night and found a great spot to set up with El Capitan in the horizon which was to be my foreground shadow. Well, sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. The police showed up on the road adjacent to where I had set up in the bushes and they had their red lights flashing as they pulled someone over. For hours. Literally the entire time I stood there waiting to take the photo was impossible because the red flashing light from the police car illuminated the entire forest of trees at the bottom of El Capitan in a bright red glow. So I took a photo of that instead and chatted with some lovely Germans whom we had met in the morning and invited them on their first milky way shoot. You win some, you lose some.
To be continued....