My iPhone announced a message around noon on August 1st, a Holiday Monday. Cathy, our friendly tour guide from the Avonlea Heritage Museum, shared that an extra tour to shoot the Milky Way was scheduled to depart the museum at 8 pm. It didn’t take long for us to make up our minds. We accepted the invitation, threw some clothes into the camper, organized a couple of simple meals, loaded up the dogs and left for Avonlea. It is a90 minute drive from our place and it would be the first time for us to find a campground nearby. Dunnet Regional Park was the logical choice.
Cathy was set and welcomed everyone at the museum at 8 pm. We took the cars 3 miles to the designated parking space, slung camera bags and tripods over our shoulders and began to hike into the sunset…
The light was fading fast!
That gave us an opportunity to play with camera settings, ISO, aperture and shutter speed adjustments. Changing the white balance was an option and we all experimented with that for a while.
We entered the valley the way we exited last time . It is always amazing how different a scene appears when looking back or approaching a landscape from a different direction.
The light was changing constantly and the sunset bathed everything in gold.
With seven photographers the options are always limitless, and one never knows what might come to mind when witnessing an unfamiliar landscape in the setting sun!
The now familiar geological formations looked new and more contrasted in the fading golden glow.
Before we were plunged into complete darkness I made sure I climbed up to capture special view points.
We were a focused group with little chit chat and banter between us. Everyone was eager to find that special spot to get one more shot of a detail, one more opportunity to capture the light.
Our group in darkness: My ISO was set to 1600 by this time, the sky was completely dark which is confirmed by the bright spots where the LCD displays are on the cameras… Cathy, our experienced guide and photographer wearing red.
This image was made at the same time. It was dark by now, but with the proper settings I was able to make the image look like daytime.
From the same vantage point turned west I captured one final image of the disappearing sunlight.
…And then we spotted the first stars!
We moved to individual spots and waited for the Milky Way to make its appearance!
I fell in love with this Hoodoo!
It didn’t take long to see the Milky Way in all its glory. A hush fell over the group as we all appreciated the Dark Sky location we are so privileged to experience in various places in Saskatchewan.
This is my favourite image from Monday night!
With increased darkness the sky changed and I wished we could have stayed much longer.
One more image of the sky behind me… next time I will set my camera to capture star trails. It has been much too long since I ventured out for half the night to get enough images for star trails…
Thank you Cathy G. and the Avonlea Heritage Museum for this great opportunity to explore the Badlands at night. We were considered a group (6 participants and up) and with that the group rate of $ 10 per person was applied. I feel it is a true bargain and it beats going to the movies any day 😉 . Cathy was helpful with suggestions for camera settings and shooting locations. She guided us back to our vehicles in complete darkness without incident. I vow to come back – I think the mosquitoes we encountered in the high grass around sunset must have given me a bug… I am hooked on the Avonlea Badlands.