We are now active in a community called SteemIt. There are contests going on all the time for artwork, poetry, and postings. I decided to put in one of my past poems I wrote for Ren when were dating.
Zen-Art is holding a “Move me” poetry challenge.
She asked for a poem that would move her in a positive way.
I think now on the future and the past.
The days gone by, the days we’ve yet to see.
The days of heady youth that fly so fast.
The days of shining hope that yet may be.
For now at last I clearly see the truth.
And look back on a life of discontent.
And rue the choices of my foolish youth.
Forever gone the days of youth misspent.
The years spent in my solitary ways.
Myself the pin ’round which my life revolved.
And then I pause and think on coming days.
And then I think on you and am resolved.
To share my loves and dreams and joys and sorrows.
And trade MY yesterdays for OUR tomorrows.
I have been interested in astronomy for as long as I can remember. I grew up reading Science Fiction and my interest in SF led to an interest in science. My favorite writer was Isaac Asimov, and I devoured his science and history books as readily as his fiction. I was never a serious astronomer. I have owned various telescopes over the years, but never a real instrument. I would occasionally make my way to a star party and look through other peoples telescopes, but I’ve never had a telescope good enough for astrophotography. When I was younger, the bar for serious amateur astrophotography was fairly high, at least relative to my income. You needed a decent telescope, with a drive to track the movement of the stars, and you needed decent camera equipment. There was always something else that seemed more important to spend my money on. But I still tried to get out to the dark whenever I could to see real stars.
If you are not interested in stargazing, you might not realize that most people do not live where they can see any but the brightest stars. The problem is called light pollution, and it is a real obstacle in many areas. Artificial light reflecting from the clouds and dust in the air drowns out most of the stars. Many people go years without ever seeing the milky way. Some people have never seen it, and have no idea what they are missing. There is even an organization dedicated to preserving the dark places. The International Dark-Sky Association.
Over the years, I found other hobbies that took my time and money. Living in Fort Worth I seldom found the opportunity to get out to the dark places. One weekend in June 2015, when Ren was out of town, I found myself missing the stars. A quick search online showed that there was a park about three hours away with particularly dark skies. Copper Breaks State Park. I was fortunate that many of the darkest places to see the stars are in Texas. If I had lived east of the Mississippi, it would have been much harder to find real darkness.
I grabbed my binoculars and my tent and hit the road. Copper Breaks is an International Dark Sky Park. That means it is rated as being an excellent place to see the skies as they should be seen. There are darker places, but this was the darkest I had ever seen, and the Moon would set about an hour after sunset. This is important because the moonlight will drown out the stars as well.
I spent an amazing evening under the stars, it was glorious. I was in heaven and I realized that I never wanted to go that long again without this. Even more amazing was that I just happened to arrive at the peak of the firefly mating season, and Copper Breaks had more fireflies than I had ever imagined seeing. It was truly magical. The entire valley was filled with them.
I tried in vain to get a picture of the stars and the valley with the camera on my cell phone, but that camera was not capable of what I was asking from it.
When Ren came home I told her that I wanted a real camera. Ren and I try to support one another when we feel strongly about something. She called up a friend of ours who was a photographer and asked if he could help get me started, and he asked me over and loaned me his backup camera, a Nikon D70S, a few lenses, and a tripod. Things had changed a lot since I was younger. The technical bar to getting good star photos was much lower. Camera technology had improved considerably. Even that older camera was capable of getting decent results.
Dinosaurs are also coolI started watching every YouTube video I could find about photography. I set out to learn the camera, and was quickly obsessed. The next new moon, I found a place that wasn’t quite as dark, but was much closer, and headed out for my first astronomy shoot at Tucker Lake just outside of Strawn Texas. About 90 miles from the house. Those first shots were not amazing, I was still learning, but I was getting out beneath the stars, and I was learning something new.
One of my First Star PhotosPhotography is now a huge part of my life. Astrophotography is only a small part of that, not because I love it any less, but the necessary conditions do not come together very often. It needs to be near the new moon, I need to have the time and money to get somewhere dark, and need not to have to get up and go to work the next morning, so it needs to be a weekend, and then I have to hope that the sky is not cloudy. It’s a lot of work. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if it were easy.
I have since improved my gear, though I still shoot with a relatively modest camera, the Sony A6000. If we ever stop traveling long enough to save up some money, (snort!), I’ll invest in a better lens, but I get pictures I am proud of with my current equipment, and getting to amazing places seems a better use of my resources than collecting camera gear. One of these days I’ll get a telescope, but for now, I’m content.
Scott is having to go into work early today so I am helping him out with his Friday Photo. Hope I do him justice.
When is the best time to go to a National Park like Yosemite? Scott will tell you it is the offseason, such as January, because there are hardly any people, no lines or traffic, and the views you will see are like no other. We visited Yosemite in January 2016 and it opened our eyes to the opportunity we had. I had never seen snow quite like this. There was a wall of snow as we hiked a bit along one of the packed trails. How did John Muir ever hike these snow-covered places? It just blew my mind.
The day Scott showed me this photo, it became one of my favorites. Blue, green, yellow and white are my favorite color combinations. Yes, this lacks the yellow, but it is still one of my favorites. The sky was so crisp, so clear, and so blue! Was it the altitude? Was it the snow? I am not quite sure, but the result is just breathtaking.
We traveled to Yosemite with a close friend and were able to share this experience with her. It was our very first National Park. We had been to National Recreation Areas, but never full blown National Parks. There was a complete world here that I never realized existed because when you think “National Park” you don’t think of cafeterias, lodges, road clearing crew, ect… You think nature, beauty, wild beasts, ect… It was one of my favorite trips; I know it was one of Scott’s because he keeps telling me he wants to go back and live there as a park host for a few years.
The travel that we do is usually not as organized as we would like, but we are improving. We try to make sure Scott is in the right areas at the golden hours so he can shoot some pretty amazing photos, but then you have shots like the blue sky above. He has learned so much since that trip and I just love that he was able to get some amazing photos at such an early time in his career.
Thanks so much for sharing this memory with me.