Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More spending time outdoors at night

The day and night were forecast to be mostly cloudy, but surprisingly things cleared out by around 4 PM and left a big open blue sky that I knew looking out the window that I needed to go play with. After a long dreary winter, that will happen I suppose. I had no idea where to go. This terrain is terrific in the spring and summer when I'm trying to document thunderstorms, but when I'm trying to do simply landscape stuff it really sucks when you can't buy a hill or a grove of trees, you know? I have been having a south bias for whatever reason in exploring my new playground in the DeKalb / Lee County area up here. Back in central Illinois I'd simply know like the back of my own hand where to go for whatever type of foreground I seek. Up here, being a new kid on the block it's not to easy. So, even though I had more star trail photography in mind I made sure to leave early so I could do some exploring with daylight before I settled on a spot. I chose to head north since I have actually yet to do that on the back roads here. I ended up somewhere north of Highway 72, just outside the town of Kingston. I stumbled upon an area of rolling hills that suited my needs. I was hoping for more trees, but the rolling hills left me with a view of Rockford and Belvidere . Thank you Google Maps... I just went and used the terrain option and located the road I was sitting on. Looks like I was stopped on Snake Road, just north of Cherry Valley Road. Anyway.

I set up shop and played around some more with some star trails. All went smoothly, but I did have one interesting encounter. I never really consider the fact, storm chasing or just on a photo run, that I'm standing alone in the middle of nowhere, but at times things can make you realize that fact. I was listening to a pack of coyotes chirping in the distance, or whatever you'd like to call the ruckus they create, stirring up the local farm dogs. This wasn't really anything new, and was not an issue. However, about 5 minutes later I saw something about dog size hauling ass across the open field. The moon had barely risen, so it was still very dark, but light enough with surrounding ambient light that I could see the object running, pausing, running some more. Of course, in the middle of running a long exposure on the stars. I'm just thinking, whatever you are, continue on your merry way and please don't come over to investigate my situation. I made some noise in the snow and it took off the opposite direction as I expected. Just was hoping it wasn't the opposite reaction! You know how dogs can be sometimes, especially farm dogs when someone they don't know is in the area. They love to come sprinting at you to greet you, usually happily, but other times not. I don't exactly need a coyote or two sprinting in my direction for an unknown reason. Again, anyway. The photos:

This was the first exposure I did, starting about 45 minutes after the sun had set allowing for some twilight to get involved in the photo. Only two cars passed me on this road, and they both did so during this image. One guy stopped to make sure I was okay, and not having car troubles but once he saw my camera out he knew I was fine. I thanked him for checking anyway. Sucks when you DO have an issue and people just pass by.

This one is looking north towards Rockford, which is lighting up the horizon. The two streaks in the middle of the image are actually airplanes. The air traffic here was nuts. I guess that's what happens when you're south of a major city, and west or one of the busiest airports in the world. Sometimes a passing plane can add to an image, but the frequency, and common paths were starting to get annoying. You can actually see it more on the top image, on the left side. Planes were constantly appearing on the easting horizon from Chicago and flying right over my head.

This was going to be a stack of me doing various different poses around my car. I already botched that one by standing too far to the left. I was supposed to be reading a map. Ah well. It works enough for me to upload a copy I suppose. After an already long day of exams and classes, and now standing outside for a couple hours in the cold I was pretty ready for some food, so I cut things short. Once things warm up a little bit, but the air is still dry enough for good optics I'll hit it a little harder I suppose.

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