Hawkins Photo Alchemy

Photography by Joseph B Hawkins, Jr.

"Alchemy" - A Power or Process of Transforming Something Common Into Something Special

COURTRIGHT RESERVOIR FAILURE OR NOT?

One certainly hopes on each photo outing to capture fantastic images. But what if the best “laid plans” are thwarted by mother nature. So is todays tale.  Even before last month’s outing to Wishon Reservoir I have been studying a plan for viewing the milky way from Couright Reservoir – just upstream.  This past weekend provided an ideal opportunity to catch the stars over the lake in a very dark sky early in the evening and anticipating the moonrise by early morning. Once again using PhotoPills to explore possible locations for the night outing I identified a location near the top of a granite dome overlooking the lake.

 

The nearby campground remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – social distancing directives. This meant there was no one around. The Top of the dome was a short hike (though steep) but offered a magnificent view of the lake to the south and east – prime for the Milky Ways anticipated location.  As the departure date neared the weather conditions raised doubt about the success of outing.  What has been an unusual early summer has resulted in fluctuating conditions leading to clouds in the High Sierra. The forecast during the week changed several times leading me to seek weather information from a number of sources. One that I discovered which I will be consulting often in the future is www.Cleardarksky.com  this site is designed to help astronomers predict the night sky and offers a 24-48 hour advance hour by hour prediction of the cloud cover in a particular location.

Clear Dark Sky Chart

Clear Dark Sky Chart

We took the two hour drive up to the lake and the half hour hike up to the planned location and the view was indeed spectacular. The clouds in the sky were fantastic and at first, I was hopeful for a magnificent sunset. We set up camp, built a fire and were going to wait for the could cover to clear. The sky was to be cloudy until 1 am then clear – here is where the “BEST LAID PLANS” fell apart. Well … the clouds increased in density as the sun set. The precipitation began to fall, given our altitude of over 8500 feet it was not rain – but sleet and hail. Not too heavy mid you but certainly enough to abort the mission.

 

Was the trip a Success or failure? This is an easy question to answer – it was arousing success! While I did not get to photograph the starts last night if did explore and area I had never visited before (but will go back to), I made an short video you can watch below and had great conversation with my fellow adventures on the trip up and back.

Happy Trails  – The Photo Alchemist

Joseph Hawkins

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