Starscapes - Matt Walker
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Bowling For Diamonds

Bowling For Diamonds

The weekend looked promising with clear skies along the coast, and a workable tide. I rented the 15mm Zeiss, grabbed my sleeping bag, snacks, and a small cooler to keep my sandwich, and drinks cool. The traffic was horrible through Navato and Petaluma with road construction. There was classic Indian summer heat with Bodega Bay clocking in at almost 85 degrees. The drive along the north coast was stunningly clear. Between Jenner and Fort Ross I could see Point Reyes with zero haze. It took a total of five hours to get to my location with less than an hour of light left.
It was all working out, and the conditions were beyond perfect. I grabbed my camera bag, snacks, cooler, and tripod. Wait, where’s my tripod? Oh my God, please don’t tell me? An instant flash wave of panic rushed through my body. I tore my truck apart, and it wasn’t there. I wanted to cry, and couldn’t think straight. My first thought was to drive several miles south into Gualala, and knock on everyone’s door asking if they had a tripod I could use. The sun was getting lower, and there was no time for ridiculous actions. I opened my truck door one more time, and lifted the back seat to see if the tripod had somehow reappeared; it hadn’t, but there was a roll of Gorilla duct tape. I grabbed the roll of tape, and headed down to the beach. I had driven too far, two weekends in a row to give up on one of my dream shots. I was the only person on the beach, and when I got to my location I emptied the cooler, and decided to use it as my tripod. I mounted the camera in the vertical position, and began taping my camera to the Igloo cooler. I couldn’t believe what I was doing, but it was my answer to an unthinkable situation; shooting the Milky Way without a tripod.
Using the cooler forced me to use the rocks for a higher perspective. It was really difficult to balance the cooler on the rounded rocks, let alone keep it level on the horizon. I had initially taped over my shutter cord port, so I pushed the shutter on mirror lock up, allowing the cooler to stop rocking and in 30 seconds the camera would automatically take a picture. I did that through twilight; pushing the shutter, and waiting 30 seconds for it take a picture. As the tide got higher I shared the rock with my cooler/camera, and water rushed around us while the shutter was open. By the time it was dark, I jumped off the rocks, and water was knee deep filling my rain boots with water.
At this point the Milky Way was visible, and it was further West than I had anticipated. Things weren’t going so well. I ate some food, and went back at it. I had no choice but to move from the rising tied, so I decide to shoot the Milky Way alone, and blend it into the foreground. So this shot is not an accurate depiction of where the Milky Way was in conjunction to the foreground. It was a little further to the right. I got some driftwood on the beach and made a backrest for my cooler to point into the sky. By doing this I was able to capture much of the Milky Way in all its glory. What you see in this image is the equivalent of you looking all the way up, and arching backward beyond 180 degrees.
I’m still sick about it, and embarrassed to say I forgot my tripod.

2013Bowling Ball BeachOctoberrootswalkermatt walkerphotography