Since childhood I’ve been fascinated with the unfathomable beauty of the starry night sky. On warm summer evenings I’d lie on the grass in the back yard of my Connecticut home and gaze in rapt wonder at the millions of sparkling stars above. These early experiences have had a profound effect on the way I see and think about light in my photography today. Light emanating from the darkness or glowing from behind, backlighting my subject, still draws me close.
I’ve only just recently begun to photograph the starry night sky. On a trip to the eastern Sierras two years ago, I began exploring the heavens above places such as Joshua Tree or the Alabama Hills. However, until last week, the persistent coastal fog near my home at Point Reyes had kept me from attempting any star photography here.
Clear skies arrived last Monday, during an unusual heat wave. The fog disappeared from our coast. That evening, I drove toward Drakes Beach as the sun sank below the Pacific’s horizon. I arrived at Drakes Bay and found the parking lot empty. Oh joy… I had the beach and the night sky to myself!
Time slowed as I ambled along the shore enjoying the balmy evening. Then, emerging slowly from the darkening sky, a glorious river of light appeared. As the sky darkened this band of sparkling light brightened. Millions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, streamed from the horizon up to the heavens, high above my head. I found a place near a favorite bluff and set my camera for the long exposure.