Thinking I might try to catch the tail end of the Geminids meteor shower, yesterday I decided to come home after another long day at work and put myself through a crash course in using the manual settings on my camera. I’ve never shot in low light conditions before and I’ve never taken the camera settings off Auto, so why I thought this was a good idea is really beyond me. I spent fifteen minutes scanning the low lighting section of my Nikon D90 Companion then I loaded the dogs in the car and set out to find a place to do a practice run. (All the while I had to ignore worried calls from my parents, who thought I was off traipsing through the hill country unarmed and waiting to be abducted. Hey, at least I carried a knife with me!)
It took me twenty minutes to find a deserted spot on one of the country roads outside the city, then I parked the car and snapped a few test photos. It was too early to see any meteors, so after my test run I came home to play with the camera settings some more and prepare for my morning trip. I set the camera up on a stool–since I don’t yet have a tripod–and tried my hand at some light painting. I scrawled out a “heavily coded” message for B, then I practiced with a few more shots of the stars. I got to see one meteor–a huge, bright one that left me oohing and aahing to the dogs about what they were missing–before calling it quits for the night. I started getting excited about my planned morning shoot when, during my second review of the photos I’d captured, I noticed something. While I’d been writing silly messages to my husband to test different shutter speeds I may have actually captured a meteor streaking across the sky in the background. (Look behind the heart. And if it turns out that that’s not a meteor after all, I don’t want to know.)
This morning my alarm woke me up at 4:30. I loaded the sleepy hounds into the car again, grabbed a breakfast taco, and made my way out to the dark spot I’d chosen earlier. I parked the car, turned off all the lights, and waited. And while the chupacabra danced circles around my car–which was hidden from the road by a stand of trees and wedged against a fenceline–I took pictures and more pictures. I used the car roof to steady my camera, which didn’t really help considering that the two 80+ pound, antsy labradoodles I’d packed in the backseat kept jumping around. The cloud cover that I’d read would burn off by 6 AM lingered, and as far as I can tell it’s still mostly there even though the sun is now on its way up. But still I waited and tried to capture more photos.
When I started to get antsy I followed the highway out further to find an alternate location, all the while watching the sky through my sunroof. Every time the clouds parted I’d pull over and shoot a more photos. And every time I shot a few photos the clouds would scurry to cover up the sky again to prevent me from seeing any meteors.
Finally, at about 6:30 I decided to call it quits and head home. And just as I looked up at the closing sunroof I spotted a meteor streaking across the sky. I turned the car off again and tried a few more times. Between shots I caught a glimpse of my third and final meteor, and at 7:00 I finally said goodbye to the hill country chupacabra (or chupacabras) and headed home with the stereo cranked up and the windows down to catch the cool morning air.
As luck would have it, the first song I heard as I was driving home was Cee Lo Green’s F*ck You. I couldn’t help changing the words a bit as I sang along, laughing at the little early morning adventure that had somehow, even though it failed, brightened my mood in the middle of an otherwise very long and stressful week at work.
I see you drivin’ ’round the country with your cam-era
and I’m like, f*ck you
I guess the three meteors you saw wasn’t enough
I’m like f*ck you…
And with that I’m off to get ready for another long day at work.
What’s that, a meteor? Nah… it’s just a plane.