We recently returned from an amazing 7 day backpacking trip through the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Believe it or not, this is how we like to spend our vacation time. Hiking countless miles in high elevations gives us time to enjoy each other in deep conversation, admire the blooming wildflowers, and witness clear, dark skies from our tent perched high on mountain tops. We did however, return with a few battle scars from blood thirsty mosquitoes, intense sunshine, and blistering feet. In addition, we were starving for fresh produce (and a big fat cheeseburger) from eating only freeze-dried food for a week. Why do we do it you may ask? Because immersing ourselves in pristine nature heals our souls. No noise pollution, TV, cell phones, emails, or deadlines gave us plenty of time to just enjoy every moment to moment as each beautiful landscape unfolded or animal entertained us. Each natural gift revived us and reminded us why we love to disappear in the wilderness.

I heard Eagle Cap had some of the darkest skies in Oregon, but of course, I just had to see for myself. After a few all-nighters, all I can say is WOW! The night sky was so intensely clear and dark; it had to be a ‘Class 2’ on the ‘The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale’ (Visit bit.ly/1eCr7pd for more info on the Bortle Scale). The darkness was so deep; it was difficult capturing the vastness and beauty of the high altitude landscape. So instead of shooting during the middle of the night, I concentrated on shooting during what’s called the ‘Nautical Twilight’. Nautical Twilight is the time when the center of the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and only general or vague outlines of horizon are visible. Personally, I like to call it ‘Blue Hour’. This time period provided just enough light to capture most of the visual elements of the landscape.

This image was taken at Moccasin Lake and includes Eagle Cap Peak which towers at 9595 feet in altitude.

Lots more to come!

How would you like to capture images like this? We have only 1 space left for our last workshop September 6-8, 2013. Visit goldpaintphotography.com/cascaderangesmithrockworkshop/ for more info.

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