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Night Photography depicting The winter milky way arch over a tree in saskatchewan

Desolate – 2021

The story here spans two different nights (hence the category composite). Before a couple of weeks ago, it had been November since we were graced with both a new moon cycle and clear skies. So when we finally had a clear night forecasted for early March, I knew I wanted to put together a 50mm pano of the winter Milky Way arch and a deepscape (still editing that one). Conditions were for clear skies, with a 70% illuminated moon rising around 1:00 AM, but fairly high humidity. I had about a 3-hour window of darkness so planned to shoot the sky portion of my panorama before moonrise and then shoot the foreground as soon as the moon crested the horizon for some additional light.

I spent the first two and a half hours in the cold happily taking 30+ 1.5-minute exposures of the night sky until I reviewed an image. Where were all the bloody stars?! I looked back through my photos and found that after the first row and a half, my lens had begun to fog up and now was completely frozen over. A layer of frost covered my front element. A stronger man than I wouldn’t have cried. I’m not ashamed to admit a tear or two froze to my rosy cheeks. Moonrise was in about 30 minutes and I didn’t have the time to finish the rest of the sky portion of the panorama. I decided then and there to hope that in the coming days, there would be clear skies again where I could finish my panorama (spoiler: there was) so I pinned my exact location in my phone, removed the frost covering my lens and photographed the foreground with the rising moonlight. I grabbed a couple of moonscapes that night then packed up and the hour home.

Fast forward three nights later, clear skies again and I headed out to finish what I had started. I drove back out, hiked the 1 kilometre to this spot, found the snow I had trampled down for 3 hours the previous night, looked for my old tripod holes in the snow and set up back in the exact spot (hence – time blend ). During this second night, the humidity was low and I managed to finish up my 50mm pano.

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