Chasing Comets

Updated: Jan 12

Let me preface by saying I am by no means a pro-astrophotographer. I don't have the equipment to capture clear, noiseless images, or the patience to stay up all night. However, sometimes, I do go out to experience the night. With the Neowise Comet showing itself shortly after sunset and the hubby having to go into work late, I decided I might as well take advantage of the night.


I knew a few spots and some compositions I wanted to attempt, so I loaded up what gear I have, 3 bottles of bug spray, and a bottle of water, thinking I'd maybe be out just past 10:30pm.


What I didn't know is how perfect of a night I'd get and how much fun I'd have out on the side of the road with the deer, owls, coyotes, and a good friend keeping me company until nearly 1am.


While out there, I had plenty of ATV's and a few cars pass by. It wasn't until the fourth time this particular SUV passed that I decided I wanted to try some light streaks. So I set up as quickly as possible and managed to get one of my favourite shots of the night.

From here, I could see all three mines (white lights to the right) and the town we call home. Jordan was somewhere beneath my feet in the mines.

Armed with a tactical flashlight, I decided to play with some light. my goal was to attempt to make it seem as if the milky way was pouring into the field. I maybe didn't fully achieve my vision but hey, I'm still learning.

Being new to this game, I knew one thing I've always struggled with is finding good foreground objects. So I chose a fence post; not super creative but it's actually really hard to get everything in focus... My initial hope was to have been able to capture the Kapsovar Church, however even while I was closer to it, the clouds didn't quite work in my favour.

My friend then came out and we had a really great chat, one of the first for just her and me since March when the world got turned upside down. I think it'll be one of those fun "Contagion" like stories we share with our kids one day, "we snuck out into the night without masks and just talked and watched the stars" lol.


The next two shots were a little more traditional, I simply wanted to get a decent image in one exposure to see how that worked. These are by-far some of my favourite milky way shots to date.


I went for a more playful, colourful light for the image below and was treated by a shooting star!

In the next photo, I wanted something more eerie and subtle. As if there were a ghostly fox that was slinking through the grass, out of view, illuminating the purple and yellow flowers and grasses, unaware of the stary owl descending from the stars.

I'll end with the first shot of the comet. I had been texting my parents, trying to direct them to see the comet. Unfortunately, the clouds were too thick for my mom to see and I told my dad to look NE instead of NW... sorry dad... so neither did see it. But as I was getting worried I was looking in the wrong direction, I suddenly saw the tail of the comet and just felt this wash of happiness and excitement fall over me. Funny how it truly is the small things that get you.

Final Thoughts

I have not spent a lot of time doing photography this year. Additional stress and worry, COVID, and general anxiety over the state of the world and my life has really prevented me from enjoying a lot of what I love about being a photographer. To top it off, we recently lost our family dog - who I would argue was one of the most loved creatures you'd ever meet - from that I suddenly realized just how long it's been since I just enjoyed something, didn't feel pressure to hold it together, to be prepared for the next day, or just did something because I wanted to do it. I opened up finally and just let some of my thoughts become words and let myself grieve, which seemed to open up my heart enough to fill it with some joy again.


It was truly a freeing moment. I think this comet will always signify that sense of freedom and peace for me, regardless of what's to come. I hope it can be that for you too.



Until next time,

Emily

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