Last night one of my students, Jacob, and I went up to Market Lake Wildlife Refuge near Roberts, Idaho. We hadn’t heard about the wildfire near North Butte over near Menan, but it was putting up a considerable amount of smoke. Thunderstorms were brewing to our northwest up in Montana and the lighting became quite the show later in the evening. The clouds cooperated and moved out of the way once it got dark enough to start shooting (it didn’t get dark until after 11pm!). The Milky Way was pretty spectacular as well. Being a wildlife refuge, we had hundreds of birds buzzing us all evening, including what looked like Glossy Ibises. The bugs were pretty annoying as well!!
In November, I went out to Craters of the Moon National Monument with several of my photo students. The monument has been designated an International Dark Sky Park and the night we were there was on a new moon. That was one of the “darkest” experiences I have ever had, with the exception being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when I was in the Navy.
This first weekend of November, I ventured back up to the lake near the Chesterfield ghost town for some astrophotography. A storm front was beginning to move in from Seattle, so it was very windy and exceptionally cold. My sweetheart decided to join me on this outing and this was her first exposure to hours of patiently waiting for the stars to come out and images to be captured. What an initiation she endured!
In addition to shooting star trails (in the tradition of my friend and mentor, Wilson Hurst), I also tried photographing the Milky Way. Visibility of the stars to the east side of the lake and straight overhead was remarkably good. Unfortunately, I had not anticipated the glow of city lights to my north, which clearly is visible in my star trail shot. The light pollution came from Idaho Falls, which is about 65 miles (105 km) away.