by Cameron Preston
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Whenever someone starts photography they have that dream photo they want to catch but they don’t have the experience or proper gear to do so. For me this is that photo. I first bought myself a camera in 2014, when I was 14 and very naive to the concepts of advanced photography. Two weeks later we went on a camping trip to Smiley Creek Airport up near Stanley, Idaho and I though I would give astrophotography a chance. I got up at midnight to see the brilliant arm of the Milky Way stretch to the very end of the runway and at that moment I knew I needed to get this photo. I walked my self to the middle of the runway with a Nikon D3100 and a kit lens. At that moment of time I thought I was doing everything correctly, very little did I know I was doing everything wrong. I had my ISO to the highest it could go and my shutter speed at a minute! (I had an off camera cable) On the back of the camera I was amazed at what I was capturing.
That amazement wore off fast as I tried to edit them in my basic photo editor at the time. They were not even close to what I had seen on the internet. Two years of experience later I was able to come back to the same place with one purpose. To chase that photo I had tried to capture two years prior. This time I walked out to the middle of that runway, this time with a better Nikon D300 and a brand spanking new Tokina 16-28, I had bought two days before. This time I knew what I was doing and I wasn’t going to leave until I had chased down this photo. But then the complications hit. We just had to plan our trip around the full moon so I only had a 90 minute window to get my photo before the moon was to rise. So there I was at only 11:30 in the middle of that runway freezing myself to death in 20 degree weather trying to chase a photo.
This time doing almost everything right. I immediately started to take some test exposures, I was already getting better results than the last time. Once getting my exposure correct and turned my camera to the end of the runway. There it was, the photo I had been chasing for two years was finally within grasp. Every time I looked at the back of the camera a surge of excitement surged through me for this was the year I got my photo. Once the moon was close to rising, I knew my night was over. So freezing cold I crawled into my sleeping bag and dreamt of chasing stars.
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