That wasn’t worth it

Late on Friday night we drove out east to Laguna Mountains. The secondary goal was to enjoy the night out in the back country and maybe make some photos of the night sky, weather permitting (the forecast said partly cloudy), then sleep in the car and get up early to achieve the primary goal: hike up to Garnet Peak or Monument Peak for sunrise. Something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time.

But I’m not exactly a morning person, and the thought of getting up at 3.30am, driving out there & hiking up to the peak (not far or strenuous, but still!) just never seemed attractive enough. Ahem. So why not drive out late at night, enjoy the stars, the sky, the sounds of nature, and then just get out of the car and begin the hike? Sleeping in the car isn’t fun anyway so getting up would be fairly easy. 🙂

Dead Oak at night, Laguna Mountains
Dead Oak and Milky Way — Filaree Flats, Laguna Mountains, CA

Achieving the secondary goal was fairly easy, actually. And it was a really enjoyable night – warm and with nothing but the sound of the cicadas. The sky was hazy so the stars weren’t visible that well, but that wasn’t the primary goal anyway, right? 🙂

Sleeping in the car however was not just unpleasant, it was downright impossible. 😛 When I was about to fall asleep Shuwen moved, and that movement of course rocked the car, and woke me up. Then when she was about to fall asleep I moved, same story. And for whatever reason, Toni (our little dog) got pretty much freaked out when we reclined the seats and re-arranged things. She began to pant and shake and shiver and didn’t stop or calm down even after we tried to sleep and calm her.

So we decided to call it a day, err, night. By that time, the haze had cleared quite a bit and the Milky Way was visible in all it’s beauty. I wandered around with the camera a little more, that’s when I made the photo above (at 1:19am). I light-painted the tree with my LED headlamp. In my own defensive, I’ve never light-painted at night before, and using the LED headlamp was a rather stupid idea. The color balance differs just too much from the surroundings at night. I like to render the night-sky rather cool and blue to enhance the feeling, but that would have turned the light-painted tree into a strange blue something. If I should ever do this again I’ll use an orange-geled flash. Lesson learned.

After packing up we drove home and fell into our own cozy beds around 3am.

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6 Comments

    1. Less of an adventure than I had intended, though. But I guess the adventure really starts when you go out and do something outside of your routine, ie. brushing your teeth and then driving out into the back country, instead of going to bed. 🙂

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  1. During the summer I like to catch a nap on a cot or beach chair, or even just throw down a blanket, and sleep under the stars. I can never sleep well in a car either.

    A lot of people like to light paint with cooler light but I agree with you, I don’t think cool light looks very natural. My favorite light painting tool is an old flashlight with a beautiful warm light, perfect for the desert environment, but since it’s not very bright it requires a longer exposure and only works for some subjects.

    Sorry you felt that your trip was bust, but at least you got to do something different, and see the beautiful night sky and Milky Way. I haven’t made it out for that yet this year, and only a few weeks left for the best Milky Way photography…

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