The stars fell like snow. The damp, cold breeze made any patch of bare skin numb to the touch. The bog gave off that bitter, but pleasant scent that bogs do. As I walked on the frosty boardwalk it snapped and cracked as if in defiance of being awaken from hibernation.
I looked for a place to setup the tripod in the dark. I wanted to set it up off the side of the boardwalk so it didn’t shake as I walked. I was careful not to damage the deep moss and other bog plants that the boardwalk was there to protect. I aimed the camera back towards the lookout tower at the edge of the bog.
If anyone has ever tried night photography they will know that it is very difficult to compose a photo and set the focus in the dark. Through trial and error I composed the shot to include as many stars as possible, while still including the tower and the edge of the woods. While taking test shots I noticed that the camera was picking up the northern lights. They were making the sky next to the horizon a bright green, orange and red color that I couldn’t see with my eyes.
I finished the setup, did the math for the exposure, then locked the shutter open for 64 minutes. While the camera did it’s thing I returned to the tower and climbed it to watch the show. There were falling stars in every direction that streaked across the sky. I hoped that they would cross the path of the camera but I knew they wouldn’t produce enough light to be picked up on a long exposure. I played with my flashlights and moved around to try to keep warm.
It was a beautiful clear night and the sky was full of millions of stars. Saint-Louis-de-Kent lit the horizon to the south. The night was peaceful. The stars continued to fall and I continued to watch thinking about how fascinating it all is. I regretted leaving my gloves in the car and tried to keep my hands in my pocket. After half an hour I walked back to the camera to check its progress. I still had time so I returned to the tower to enjoy the continual barrage of falling stars and the silence.
When the time was up I took a quick look at the results before I packed up the camera to go. The picture looked a bit dark but I thought it was workable. While returning to the car I whistled a random song to break the silence and to make sure I didn’t spook any animals. The picture of a bear on the Kelly’s Beach Boardwalk that was recently posted on Facebook crossed my mind but the night remained silent.
I couldn’t come to Kouchibouguac without going to the beach. My next stop was Kelly’s Beach. I walked out to the beach with plans to do a time lapse of the stars off the end of the boardwalk. I didn’t know that the end of the boardwalk is removed in the winter to protect against storm surges. I needed another foreground element and took some test shots of a piece of driftwood. I dropped the camera down low on the tripod to include as much sky as possible but it just didn’t work for me. Using the driftwood wouldn’t allow me to get much sky in the picture. I aimed the camera higher to only include a wedge of the ocean and some dune grass. The lighthouse at Cap-Lumière blinked through the grass. The resulting time lapse clip can be found here: Beach Night Time Lapse.
I set the camera to take repeated 30 second exposures. The clouds were starting to roll across the sky so I thought my visit would be short. I considered moving the camera to point at a more clear patch of sky but I have learned in the past that it is usually better to stay the course. I took a walk down the beach. The ocean was more calm than I had ever seen it. There were barely any waves. I breathed deeply and took in the smell of the salt water.
When I got back to the camera I decided I was going to finish at 2:00. The sky cleared up and the stars were still falling so I decided to stay until 2:15. It took me exactly 1 hour to whistle my way back to the car, drive home slowly, watching for animals, and climb into my warm bed. I was thinking of how I could do things better on my next trip when I fell asleep.