DoNorth

PHOTOS: Written in the Stars

Look at the stars! Poke-O-Moonshine is the perfect spot for some star gazing, have a journey into the night sky.

Issue 5: Summer/Fall 2015

    Written in the Stars

                          Photos by Micheal Dorsey
                          Story by Brian Molongoski

           We take for granted that, even while standing still, Earth’s rotation moves us somewhere around 1,000 miles per
       hour for every moment we live. We can’t feel it, but there is a way to see this happen along the Adirondack Coast.
       On a warm evening on the tail-end of summer, we climbed to the top of Poke-O- Moonshine Mountain armed to
       the teeth with cameras. By the time the sunlight slipped away and the stars dotted the purple sky, our cameras
       were pointed skyward, ready to capture the vibrant beauty of the cosmos above. Night photography can be tough,
       but the trick is simply increasing a camera’s light exposure as much as needed. We took it a step further, however.
       By leaving the camera shutter open for long periods of time, hundreds of images are combined into a single photo. 

              For us, this resulted in something even more extraordinary: star trails. We checked the finished photo in awe of
         the star trails that blazed across the sky. Combined with the star trails, the bright Burlington skyline across Lake
         Champlain and “sun-like” moon overhead make the view truly remarkable. 
In the distance, you can also spot long

         streaks of light from commercial airliners flying to Montreal. We were always “on call” after our success on Poke-
         O-Moonshine. Fall was moving in, which meant more clouds.

                 The weather didn’t give us any chances to be picky. If conditions were good, we had to go. We grabbed our 

           tripods and cameras and hit the road, no matter the time of night. We always had a list of locations using a
           combination of online satellite imagery and local knowledge. Still, even with these places in mind, we would
           drive around for hours trying to find the perfect foreground shot that best complemented the night sky around it.

              Take a drive over to Chazy Lake in northern New York on a clear night and you can watch the stars rise over Lyon
         Mountain. But not all lights in the sky match the stars’ movement. Two bending light trails show how humans have
        created highways in the sky as jets follow flight paths from north to south. Just outside Plattsburgh, it’s not too difficult
        to find wide-open farmland and fields — prime spots for night sky photography.

            But  even in rural Plattsburgh, light pollution can still whitewash what would otherwise be a perfect night
          sky photo. To get the deepest black sky spotted with trillions of stars we need to travel far away from cities
          and towns. However, man-made light doesn’t always have to be the No. 1 enemy for night sky photographers.

                 Depending on the color, light cast by nearby towns and cities can paint an orange hue across the sky. No
           special filters needed here — it’s all about still keeping the camera’s light exposure high. The result adds a
           different aesthetic that serves as a visual appealing replacement to the usual blackness behind the stars.

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