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Developing From a Negative

Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

Be Prepared

Astrophotography has always interested me, but the locations aren’t dark enough so long exposures of the sky are few and far away.  During winter break my partner and I escaped the cold weather of Colorado and flew to Hawaii.  Not only are these islands precious tropical paradises, they have the darkest skies in the world and I was excited to take advantage of them. 

The first half of our trip was on Big Island, home to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  For years there has been a lava glow shining out from the Halemaumau crater and I wanted to capture a single exposure of the night sky above the glowing crater.  This is accomplished by placing neutral density filters in front of the camera lens to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. 

This time of year is their wet season and we weren’t aware of this fact when we booked the trip.  That meant the clear skies needed for astrophotography were nonexistent; it rained every single day.  It’s also ideal for a New Moon to be in the night sky, but we had a nearly Full Moon every night.  We learned the day befor our tour through the park that the crater had sunk a mile into the Earth when the volcano erupted in 2018 and there was no longer a glow. 

In a state of annoyance at the weather, and that I hadn’t read about the crater while doing my research, I decided to leave my tripod behind during our day tour.  Because of the rain and the Full Moon that evening we were able to see a moonlit rainbow, but I didn’t have my tripod to stabilize my camera. 

I was able to capture it thanks to my camera’s ability to produce decent photographs at a high ISO, but it isn’t the exposure it could have been if I had simply brought my tripod along.  The moral of the story?  Always be prepared, even when things don’t appear to be working out the way you hoped. 

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