Over the years we had gotten to know Anna Walker through my daughter Nayana being in the same class as CeCe Walker. Anna is loved by everyone in the community for her kindness and volunteering spirit.
The other day, Anna reached out to me and said you need to visit our lake house on Lake Cypress Springs which is about 2 hours east of us. We can see stars clearly and you might be able to shoot there. On a whim, I asked my friend Yogesh if we can go there. If nothing else, we will be able to practice deep sky astrophotography that we have started to dabble in.
The weather forecast was reasonable with 20% sky cover. We drove out to the Walker family’s lake house which is a beautiful log cabin on the lake with its own marina/dock to launch canoes/kayaks etc. By the time we go there it was quite dark and we saw some deer around the area. Our plans to shoot deep sky was shot with thick clouds that were moving. We drove around the area trying to scout for any locations to shoot the Milky Way which was to rise around 3am when the moon would also be setting. Did not find anything interesting and decided the best place is perhaps at the lake house though there were a few lights that we would have preferred not to have including one on a deck we nicknamed, “The Discotheque”
We set up star trails since that was the best option we had and went to catch some sleep. Early in the morning when the Milky Way was to rise, we saw nothing on our cameras or to the naked eye. We could identify Mars and Saturn above two street lights which meant the Milky Way core was there as well. The thin clouds moving through made the stars look diffused and dreamy. After trying to do the best we could, we decided it is time to go home. We went back to pack up when I saw an embroidered wall art that said “Only he who attempts the ridiculous can achieve the impossible” with a star next to it.
It sounded so true, I wanted to take a picture of it with my camera which is when I realized, I had Image Stabilization turned ON on my camera. Any self respecting landscape or astro photographer reading this now would be squirming. The rest of you can continue reading.
A few choice expletives came out under my breath and after I had a chance to calm down, I asked Yogesh, since I realized this and we have not left the place, shall I go and try to shoot this again? Yogesh said, “Sure, I will load up the things in the car”. So I went back to place I had been shooting before under the tall oak trees that were just leafing out and some aquatic plants were sticking out of the water. The Milky Way core had by now moved southward and out of the glare of the two street lights. The clouds were also clearing out. I shot as many pictures as I could trying to do the impossible. This is literally the only direction I could compose this image and a healthy dose of utter ridiculousness made it possible.
Star trails from the Milky Way shoot at the Walkers' Lake Cypress Springs house back in March.
About 225 shots and little over two hours of shooting went into this. The camera ran out of battery else the bright light trail in the middle which is Jupiter, would have been more complete.
Apparently there are people who still believe Earth is flat.
Driving on the Glacier Point Road in which is open only for about 6 months every year, we saw a photographer taking picures from this spot. Curious about what the gentleman was shooting, we returned a few minutes later to see this view of the Half Dome as cars passed by. The Blue Hour made for some interesting twilight conditions.
What is hard to notice unless you zoom in very tight is the presence of two portaledges half way up the 1.5 km hight Half Dome.
Portaledge is a deployable hanging tent system designed for rock climbers who spend multiple days and nights on a big wall climb.