To be honest, I thought about going to the Empire State Plaza and photographing the fantastic fireworks show. I really did.
And then I remembered it would be a freakin’ furnace there. 100 degrees in the shade. And the Empire State Plaza HAS NO SHADE.
I then thought about an auxiliary shooting spot, and after a little morning scouting, I settled on shooting from a berm off Lincoln Park, a shooting area that faces the Plaza.
But again, I would be in the sunshine – and people were already setting up their barbecue grills and blankets and picnic tables and lawn chairs ahead of time. And when I say “ahead of time,” I mean they were camping at 11:00 a.m. For a fireworks show that stars ten hours later.
Also … with all the controversy about that “Salute to America” parade in Washington, D.C. – I just wasn’t feeling patriotic. That, and I had already captured a fantastic fireworks show at Saratoga Harness the previous night, so I had my fireworks quota for the year (I shot those on film, so you’ll have to wait until the film is developed to see them).
Instead, I decided to go for a different light show.
Up to the Adirondacks.
Yep, I went Milky Way shooting again.
According to my app software PhotoPills,the optional time to capture the Milky Way on the evening of July 4th / morning of July 5th was at 2:30 a.m. I arrived at one of my nighttime photography honey holes – the Corinth Reservoir in Saratoga County. It’s a “4” on the Bortle scale, which means I should have no trouble seeing the Milky Way with my naked eyes. Or in my case, my naked and recently cataract surgery repaired eyes.
I arrive at the little parking lot next to the trailhead that leads to the Reservoir. It’s early, so rather than wait at the Reservoir for umpteen hours, I decide to take a wee nap.
At about 1:00 a.m., I hear sirens. A cop car zooms past County Route 10, his lights flashing like someone hit the jackpot.
Okay, well, I guess some dummy must have tried to shoot fireworks and blew off his hand or something. I’ll go back to –
Another cop car. And then a fire truck. And a few more cop cars and another couple of fire trucks.
I’m not going to take a nap now. Let’s just go over the camera gear and make sure everything’s hunky dory.
Then one of the cop cars pulls into the trailhead parking lot.
Uh oh. What did I forget to do? Damn it, I forgot to call the Town of Corinth and let the Town Supervisor know I would be here. That way the cops don’t think that someone has passed out in a car or that something nefarious is going on.
The cop walks up to my window, he’s carrying a flashlight in his hand. Okay, Miller … just tell the truth, no matter how convoluted it sounds.
“What are you doing here?”
I show him my camera. “I’m going to photograph the Milky Way, and I’m just making sure all my equipment is ready.”
“Okay,” the cop said. Apparently this worked, as I’m not currently writing the blog from a holding cell. “We don’t get that many cars parked here after dusk.”
“No, I understand. I’m legit, see – tripod, camera, just someone who likes to shoot the stars at night.”
“Well, I hope you get good pictures,” the officer said.
“By the way,” I asked, “I saw several police cruisers and fire trucks zipping by.”
“There’s a major accident up County Route 10 a mile or so. Don’t go that way if you’re heading home.”
“Understood. Thanks, officer.”
“Have a good night.” The cop went back to his cruiser … and drove off.
Okay. Let’s get to the Reservoir. A little half-mile hike up the trailhead … and I’m there.
I set up my camera and aim for the Milky Way.
And despite the light pollution from Saratoga County … ten-second exposures at f/1.2 can pick up lots of light … I was fortunate to pull this kind of picture.
Not bad … not too shabby … even if I’ve got the light pollution this way. I’ll take a decent photo where I can get it.
I have to tell you, this is tremendously peaceful right now. There’s only nature sounds – bullfrogs and crickets and birds and all that. I’m feeling an inner calmness right now. I like inner calmness. I like it very much.
All right, while I’m here, let’s take some other pictures. I can definitely get a shot of the Big Dipper from here…
Yep. There’s all seven stars.
And then I look down. Down on the clear, clean, glass-like, ripple-less Reservoir.
Chuck, you gotta get this shot.
Holy crap … that’s the Big Dipper reversed in the water!
You don’t suppose …
You don’t think …
Chuck, stop supposing and thinking. Take the camera and try to get a shot of both Ursa Majors!
This will be tough. I’m working with a prime lens. There’s no way to zoom out for this picture.
And I don’t dare start walking around an unlit reservoir, trying to find a better shot. Not unless I want to have that next shot be of me trying to swim to shore.
Only one way to do this. Lock the tripod in place, pan down, shoot, pan up, combine the images, flip it to black and white, and hope for the best.
And here’s what came out.
Not bad for a late night jaunt.
Now mind you, I got home at about 4:00 a.m. I spent two hours converting files and writing a blog post … so now I’m going to turn in. Good night.
Or should I say good morning.
Right now all I want to say is good zzzz….