Daylight Studio

Unplugging, Recharging, and Astrophotography: Daylight In The Wild

Unplugging, Recharging, and Astrophotography: Daylight In The Wild

As a back-end developer, almost all of my days are digital. I typically spend most of my time at work staring at screens which consist of writing code, reviewing designs, chatting on Slack, or updating to-dos in Basecamp. Combine a 40 hour work week with personal side projects in the evening, and I find myself spending most of my time working at the computer. For many, this might sound awful, but I enjoy doing development. It is doable, provided I make sure to get some solid breaks in on the weekends. During our long Northern winter, I spend most of my time indoors. As the seasons proceed from Winter to Spring, and Spring to Summer, the need for an outdoors refresh increases. For some, day hikes or day trips to the beach are enough to get refreshed, but for me, I find it better to spend the night outdoors. There is something unique about waking up in nature that I enjoy. Originally, I started out with an idea of trying backpacking, which has since evolved into multiple weekend backpacking trips that involve hiking, fishing, rafting, and astro/night photography. Combining a night outdoors with my passion for astrophotography is my favorite type of mini-trip. It is crucial for digital workers to find ways to recharge to avoid burnout. Weekend backpacking trips are an excellent way for digital workers to renew.

A few weeks back, Brandon (an awesome Daylight designer) and I were able to create a trip that allowed for a combination of all my favorite outdoor activities. After waiting for a new moon - free from clouds of Winter and Spring - we were able to get out for a trip of mountain lake fishing, pack raft paddling, hiking, and astrophotography.

We headed out early Friday morning to check out a mountain lake that offered trout fishing with nearby views of Mount Hood. There were two lakes in the area - so we decided to check them both out. After a brief hike through a huckleberry bush-lined trail of Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars, we arrived at the first lake, the larger of the two. The lake already had residents and was boggy with many mosquitos. We decided to push on to the next lake.

The second lake was empty; we picked a campsite close to the water. There were hardly any mosquitos, and the land was lush and dry with bear grass, lady ferns, and huckleberry bushes. After setting down our packs and taking in the new digs, we cooked our dinners.

While Brandon set up his raft, I used my phone’s digital compass to find SE, hoping we wouldn’t need to cross the lake to get a good shot at the milky way once it got dark. Amazingly, the campsite’s lake access was facing SE perfectly, so we didn’t need to worry about packing our camera gear over water.

With the photo shoot location picked out, we went out for a paddle. Eva, my Staffordshire Bull Terrier, doesn’t like to wait on shore, so she rides on the stern of my boat.

While out on the opposite side of the lake in deep water, Eva went overboard. I have seen her swim short distances across shallow river crossings and creeks, so I was not worried. Eva kicked and paddled frantically, but had a difficult time treading water. She went under and took in a mouth full of water while I paddled, trying to situate myself better to grab her. She came back up and managed to tread water for just seconds before going under again, this time taking in a significant amount of water. I knew I needed to get her out quick or there would be trouble. I paddled the oar one last time and reached out as far as I could reach. I barely reached her harness and pulled her back to safety. She coughed out a few cups of water and relaxed cautiously back on the boat, this time in a much more stable position.

After having more than our share of fun, we decided to head back to camp and start the astrophotography. At camp, I built a fire for Eva and me to dry off and warm up while we waited for the sun to set. After we both got dry, Brandon and I setup our tripods by the water and started snapping photos as the skies slowly darkened.

Here is my favorite photo from our campsite:

Around midnight, loud gusts of wind swept around the lake hillsides and eventually through our campsite, shaking the tree tops high above. Eva and I eventually fell asleep and woke up to a sunny, calm morning. After breakfast and a morning paddle, I caught a nice sized Brook Trout which Brandon and I split for lunch.

After lunch, we decided to take a hike up to the Mt. Hood view point.

I decided that I would stay an extra night to try out some night photos of Mt. Hood and experience solo camping with Eva. Eva and I hiked back up from camp later that evening.  We waited for dark and snapped as many photos as I could before reluctantly heading back through the tree-lined, dark forest back down to camp.

Here’s a photo from that shoot:

Saturday night ended up windier than Friday evening. I had a tough time getting to sleep from hearing the trees and branches shake. Sunday morning Eva and I had breakfast, took a brief swim, and then hiked out back to my whip. The GPS was not working for the route out, and we ended up taking a wrong turn on an old forest service road. We rode it out for about half an hour before realizing and turning back. We made it out okay and made it home in time for a late lunch.

All in all, it was a great first new moon Summer camp out. Despite losing a little sleep, I returned feeling refreshed and looking forward to more adventures to come this Summer.


Cameron Macfarlane

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