The Scene Takes Shape

Wide angle astrophotography from Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area
The Scene Takes Shape — 14mm | f/2.8 | ISO 320 | EXP 30 sec

It’d be fair to say I stepped out of both my comfort and interest zones last night. Astrophotography is a far cry from my forte, and while I do love the stars and the night sky, it’s a technique I’d rather observe through the lens work of folks far more skilled in its execution than me. And while photography is about picking and choosing your battles, like anything else there’s little harm in hopping out of that creative box to experience some new applications of the craft. Learning should never stop, right?

With clear, crisp skies overhead and a New Moon fast approaching, last night was sure to be as good a time as ever to head out for a little night work. At a loss for what to do, Joe and Jackie piped up that astrophotography should make up at least some of the night’s fun—Mario Maker aside the fireplace would come later. Taking their idea and moving it forward I offered up the Forge as our target destination. It’s close to home and gets pretty dark—by New Jersey light pollution standards anyway. And yet, while the Forge may had been my suggestion kudos to Joe and Jackie for bringing me out to a peninsula that had been never before tread by the likes of Greg Molyneux.

It was only 9:00 p.m. by the time we hiked out there. I use hiked loosely as it was more like a 5 minute walk through the woods. But let me tell you it sure was dark. With no moonlight overhead it was only a matter of feet before all was consumed by the inky blackness. It was a creepy way to start the fall season. Creepy in the best way, of course. Out on the peninsula and flanked by water on all sides, framing up a serviceable composition became something of an exercise in trial and error. With my limited experience my “approach” consisted of some high ISO shooting into the black. Sure it blows out the shot but it’s a quick and dirty way to see what’s in your frame. Once all that important busy work was out of the way, and I had the shot I wanted such as it is, I simply dialed back the ISO all the way down to 320. From there I made my final shots.

Walking back out to the car proved more creepy than the journey in. It got worse when we happened upon the cryptic writing scrawled on the trunk of a recently felled tree. Words that seemed to suggest leaving the area with much haste was the recommended course of action. Or else! From there paces quickened and flashlights brightened. As the caboose in this procession of three I made the poor choice to turn and look behind me. Total black out. Again it was the good kind of scared.

Night photography aside I can’t wait to revisit this location for sunset!


One response to “The Scene Takes Shape”

  1. […] on arrival. My plan was to revisit the spot Joe and Jackie brought me where I dabbled with a little astrophotography a couple weeks back. Unfortunately when I arrived at the trail there were cars—and where there are cars there are […]

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