This is the third installment talking about my trip to Blackwater Falls and Dolly Sod in West Virginia. If you missed it, check out the first and second posts talking about the waterfalling I did after shooting the Milky Way. I arrived at Blackwater Falls State Park at 1:30am and hiked out to Lindy Point. While the stars were beautiful, the Milky Way won’t be in the optimal position for a few more months. Probably should have pulled up Stellarium and done more research. But the shooting and hike were a good warm up.
I left Blackwater Falls entirely and headed for the wide open skies of Dolly Sod. And it was beautiful, no disappointment here. I hiked out into the Bear Rocks section and set up shop. I used a technique called “Low Level Lighting” which uses a steady light source to light the foreground. This allows you to take single exposures instead of multiple and stacking them in Photoshop. Here is the shot I ended up with:
After shooting the Milky Way for a bit I needed to take a nap for the day ahead. The night time ended around 4:45am when astronomical twilight began and the Milky Way faded away. I was already curled up in my drivers seat when that happened. Every 30 minutes I would wake up and turn on the car to warm up because the exterior temperature was 22 degrees F. But every time I woke up I woke up to the view of the stars outside of the windows. It was amazing.
The darkest skies I have ever seen were out in Utah. Dolly Sod is some of the darkest skies I have seen on the east coast. It is always a shock to the system when I see stars. Where I live in Cockeysville there are maybe 30 stars in the night sky. It is a very sad sight. And yet I can see close to two dozen more stars then you can see down in the city. If you have never made it out to the deep country to see the stars you really should make a point of it. And if you can sleep under those stars I would highly recommend it.