A small photography experience I had yesterday that taught me something about life – sometimes the best outcome is unplanned.
And here is the milky way I captured. It was 9:15pm. Imagine I was standing in a completely dark mountain top, at Pinnacles Overlook, Badlands National Park. It was so cold and windy that I felt myself and the tripod could be easily blown away off the mountain. I pointed my wide angle lens (16-35mm, f2.8) to the sky, and set my camera to manual focus, f2.8, 16mm, ISO12800 and 15 sec. I remembered last time I spot milky way, I set the shutter speed at 30 second, and for some reason there was obvious star trail due to earth’s rotation. Therefore I decided to shorten the exposure time this time. The same problem existed however – I had a very hard time focusing even I pointed my lens to the brightest star, and I barely could see anything in my viewfinder. I had to play “trial and error”. After taking the first three shots, I went back to the car and uploaded the image to my laptop. I tried to see if the large image on my computer screen was sharp. To my surprise, just with this 5-minute delay, all the stars and milky way disappeared. I knew the weather would change at night but didn’t know the clouds came in so fast. I stayed awake in the car for another few hours and unfortunately never found a second chance to get back the starry sky. Alas, I felt lucky to have captured the milky way right before it disappeared.
I ended up staying in the car the whole night, and barely slept. When my alarm rang at 6am (sunrise on the day was 6:40am according to sunrisesunset.com and twilight happens typically within 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset), all I saw was thick clouds in the sky. I knew unless miracles happen (it did sometimes!) I will most likely not be able to capture the sunrise. In fact this is exactly what has happened.
Alas, this is not something we can control. I learned over the years to unconditionally accept whatever the universe gives us. Just as I shortened my tripod and walked back to the car, I saw a couple of young bighorn sheep moving on the mountain ridge. I swiftly got in position and ended up capturing a group of them enjoying breakfast grass. :-)