Just recently, I took the opportunity to head out to a friends farm for an overnight photography session. The plan was to shoot the night sky and then catch the sun rise. I hit my swag at around 8pm and lay there looking up. I was reminded of a time when I worked in remote Western Australia. There were many times when we would drag our beds out onto the homestead lawn and sleep under the vast expanse of an Australian night sky. Not because it was fun, because the mozzies would try to carry you away in your sleep, but because it was too hot to sleep in the workers quarters. We didn’t have aircon… in fact we didn’t even have fans because the generator that supplied power was turned off at 8pm. On many an occasion, we would be forced to shelter under the verandah due to a passing thunderstorm. Sleeping under lightning is a whole different story.
So there I was, enjoying the stars and the half moon and long distant memories until I drifted into sleep. At 2:30am I was awake. The moon had set and it was a dark sky. The number of stars visible now was amazing. If you live in the city, you really must make the effort to head out to see the stars from time to time. It is a powerful reminder of your place in the universe. If you are a person of faith, it will fill your heart with wonder and praise at the awesomeness of the Creator.
I set up the cameras and began shooting. It takes a bit of time to get the settings and the focus right, but what the camera ‘sees’ it truely amazing. As time passes, the stars move across the sky. In reality, it is us who is moving, but it is easy to understand how our ancestors thought that the universe revolved around them. The idea that planet Earth is the centre of the universe is obviously not true when you look at the facts from a scientific perspective, but from a human perspective, it is totally understandable.
As dawn approaches, there is a noticeable change on the eastern horizon. A gradual hint of colour. A few less stars visible to the eye. There is also a growing sense of expectation and relief that the dark of the night is nearly over. Now I’m not scared of the dark or of things that go bump in the night, but there is a kind of internal sigh of relief when the light of day returns to the landscape. Dark shapes and distant silouettes begin to take form. Then the colour returns, dull hues at first but soon a soft pastel glow.
I love this time of transition. It happens so slowly that you hardly notice it… yet before you know it, it is light. The birds begin their morning routine, singing as they go. A distant bleating sheep reminds you that you are on a farm. The smell of dry grass made damp by the cool night air wafts on the breeze. And an almost overwhelming feeling of peace and tranquility settles over you as you watch the beginning of a new day. A day soon to be filled with the business of modern life. Work to be done. People to catch up with. Agendas to get through. Deadlines to meet. Personally, I could do this every morning, but at this stage in my life, it is not a reality. Not yet anyway.