I’ve always been curious about night photography, but to this point I had never tried it. There were two main reasons why I hadn’t tried shooting the stars… one was that I didn’t have a clue where to start from a technical point of view, and the other was that I knew my overactive imagination would get the better of me, and I would not have the nerve to be out alone in the dark.
That all changed recently however, when Maine landscape photographer Moe Chen mentioned that he was going to be heading to Acadia to shoot the Milky Way. Moe is no stranger to shooting at night, and since he was looking for someone to come along for the ride, I figured it would be a great opportunity to hang out with an accomplished photographer and learn something new. Turns out Moe isn’t too keen on being in the dark on his own either, so in addition to sharing what was an incredibly beautiful night sky, we were able to ease each other’s fear of all things spooky.
Moe had a preconceived plan for his first photograph of the evening, so right as dusk was settling in, we met at the Schooner Head parking lot just off the Loop Road near Sand Beach. The tide was going out, and Moe’s plan involved getting inside a cave so that he could do some light painting and shoot from inside the cave out toward the night sky. I didn’t have suitable footwear to join him in the cave – and to be honest I was a little freaked out about being in a cave in the dark – so I opted to “stand guard” outside instead.
It’s an exhilarating experience being on the edge of the ocean in the dark… your senses definitely heighten, and you become acutely aware of the subtlest of movements and sounds around you. I’d holler in to Moe every now and again just to make sure he knew I was still there (believe me, I know he appreciated the fact that he wasn’t alone), and as I waited for him to do his thing, I began to really notice how the night sky was starting to twinkle. Luckily for me, the Big Dipper was on show in the western sky, and as the last light of the day faded, I made the photograph below. Shooting at f4, iso 1000, with an exposure time of 27 seconds, this was my first photograph of the night sky… I was psyched.