This image captures a small abandoned shack in the Smoke Creek Desert in Lassen County, California, USA under the core our our wonderful little galaxy, the Milky Way. I arrived to the location with about 25 minutes of “astro darkness” remaining (“astro darkness” or “night” for the purposes of astro-photography refers to the period of time when the sun is more than 18 degrees below the horizon and is said to have no effect on the night sky). I quickly set up, composed, and captured the frames needed for a nice shot of the sky. For this, I stack multiple frames in post production software which greatly reduces the digital “noise” which can result for the high ISO, or light sensitivity setting required to get a good exposure of the stars without such a long exposure that they “trail” or appear to move in the frame. I then captured several frames “light painting” the structure with a handheld flashlight. The sky and foreground images are then blended in post production to create the final image.
I don’t know the story of this old shack but working theories are that it’s either an old shepherd’s shack or a cowboy “line shack.” Either is certainly a possibility as both cattle and sheep have been grazed in this area since the 19th Century, practices that continue to this very day (although the shepherds pull their more modern shacks in with pickup trucks these days).
March 31st, 2022
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