Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday, August 31st

In June 2012 I deployed overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom. As a female combat medic in the United States Army, I traveled frequently. The day I left the United States, we had a layover in Germany for a few hours. This was the beginning of seeing new culture and people. Our next flight was from Germany to Kuwait City, Kuwait. The first moment I walked out of the plane I was immediately shocked by the heat. I remember thinking that I must have been directly behind the engine and that would account of the intense level of heat I was experiencing. Unfortunately I was wrong. I kept walking further from the plane and the heat stayed the same. Locals drove us to our base via bus. This was the first time I'd ever seen nothing but desert for miles and miles.

Adapting to the weather was not was not my only struggle. During my deployment I came into contact with many natives. Their dress, foods, and social norms were very different to mine. The weather and area were one of the most difficult to accustom to.

I deployed in June, which is already a typically hot summer month. In the middle east, it is extremely hot, and only gets hotter and hotter as the months go on until about November of December where the nights slightly cool down. It does not rain, hardly ever. In the approximate eight/nine months I was deployed, I could estimate that it rained maybe three times. One major environmental factor is that the middle east is subject to sandstorms. Some sandstorms get so bad it physically stings as it whips through the air and strikes your skin. There is almost zero visibility during these storms.

Although I don't know the exact time I took this picture, I estimate it was in the November/December months. This sunset was able to light up the entire sky. I especially love the large sky portion of the picture where the light from the sun is able to stretch out. This picture was taken with an old smart phone camera.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24th

In the article, "Night Fantastic", Tony Rowell is able to capture some of the most beautiful night photos I've ever seen. In the article he emphasizes that he escapes the light pollution major cities create as well as go out on a nice clear night. In Montana, I feel like we are fortunate in escaping the glare major cities create. In my hometown, Wolf Point, MT, this is done very easily. A population of approximately 2,000 and a wide variety of back dirt roads offers a broad view of the night sky. One of my favorite things to do as a teenager was to grab a sleeping grab, lay in the bed of my pickup, and gaze at the stars.

In the article he goes on to describe his astrophotography work he's done-mostly in the Sierra Nevada Mountains located in California. Tony has been able to capture shots of comets, nebulae, lunar rainbows, meteors, eclipses, and views of the Milky Way galaxy. He describes many interesting methods to night photography. There are ways to manipulate exposure times, equipment, various lens, white balance, autofocus, and position/levels. He suggests adding extra light to bring more contrast to the stars themselves. All of these sound like great tips and tricks and I look forward to trying them on my next night photo shoot.

Camping under the Milky Way
The countless stars of the Milky Way rise over tents while camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Photo by Tony Rowell.