Back before I left for my Labor Day trip to the White Mountains of east central California and the Bristlecone Pine Forest, I wrote about the fears and insecurities that always haunt me before leaving on a trip like this. Here is a little of what I wrote just so you don’t have to go back to that post. “My mind raced with questions. Will I get the rental SUV I need in Las Vegas? Will I have enough batteries to do the shoots I have planned? Will the flights be on time? Will the holiday weekend affect my trip? Will the campground be full when I get there? Will the pain in my right foot be a problem? Will I get the shots I want? Will I get ANY shots? So many questions, so much uncertainty.” I went on to note that I tossed and turned and managed only two hours of sleep because I was so nervous about the trip. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was kind of a mess, especially for a guy who is supposed to be on top of things and to have his shit together.
Here’s the short version of what happened during my trip: it was awesome. My fears and anxieties were completely made up in my head. I successfully achieved most, if not all, of my photography objectives. The slightly longer version is that the trip was one of the best solo adventures I’ve ever had (and I haven’t done many of those lately). Not that I was really solo that much of the time. I met some great people and had some amazing experiences. Here is a list of the people I met and got to know: Troy, Trevor, Halea, Matt, Don, TJ, Lel, Mike, Monica, Matt (another one), Briana. I think that is it. I rained, it snowed, the wind blew. I saw amazing blue skies, the rising moon, and the Milky Way in all its blazing glory. I even saw a couple dozen ecology grad students don pink and magenta costumes and frolic wildly about the parking area at the Patriarch Grove. That was a new one for me. Ah, youth!! And in case you’re dying to know, yes, I did get the SUV I needed in Las Vegas. 🙂
My photography objectives for this trip were two-fold. First, I wanted to try my new camera with a high-end lens that I rented for night photography. The quality of both the camera and the lens gave me high expectations for a new level of quality from images of my beloved bristlecone pines under deep, dark night skies and the Milky Way. I know, I know, I should not let myself fall victim to the curse of expectations. But I did, and I suspect that was part of the basis for my fears going into the trip. But back to photography. My second objective was to try to create some time lapse video of the Milky Way above the bristlecone pines. This crazy idea was inspired by a time lapse video entitled “Hercules Rising” by Marsel Van Oosten. Google it to check it out. It is well worth your time. Thanks to Marsel for offering some help with this type of work!
It has taken me a while, but finally today I realize that I achieved most of my objectives. Several nights were cloudy during the trip, so I only had four nights of shooting. Not much time really when you consider the numerous shots I had to execute in order to get both the still images and the time lapse images. I have to thank my new pal Troy for helping me with this. We hooked near the end of the trip and worked together to get some nice images for both of us. I think we got a total of 12 hours of sleep the last three nights of the trip!
Anyway, I’ll post the time lapse in the next day or two. Here is an image I had planned long before leaving Knoxville. I call this tree “The Prince.” By the way, in case you’re interested, His and Her Majesty are located down the road from The Prince. Please enjoy The Prince while I try to absorb the lesson from my trip: relax and let go of anxiety and fear. It’s all in my head!