I am from Chesapeake, Virginia, USA
I am Wayne Pinkson and I am a retired physician that specialized in Diagnostic Radiology. I retired from Radiology in Jan. 2015, and now pursue my lifelong dream of doing outdoor photography. I am a very visual person, and my professional life and my leisure pursuits (photography) have all revolved around imaging. Radiology and photography have a lot in common.
In a few sentences could you tell us a bit about "Nightscapes"?
The type of night photography I do is commonly called Landscape Astrophotography or Wide Field Astrophotography. First you have to learn to capture and process the night sky adequately (the astrophotography part), but my emphasis or interest is in capturing a beautiful landscape at night (under an equally inspiring sky). I was originally interested in landscapes and this part remains very important to me, only now at night.
What are three valuable lessons you have learned from darkness?
There are so many lessons to be learned out alone at night. One is to conquer your fears. At first the solitude in the wilderness causes varying degrees of fear. You learn to become more comfortable over time. Another is to be self-reliant. When you are out there alone, there is no one to rely on but yourself. You learn to plan and prepare, prepare, prepare, or you get in trouble or do not succeed. The planning can be fun also. Another is to learn to appreciate solitude. This is the best part. These locations have been preserved for all to enjoy, and I appreciate them the most in the quiet of the night.
What's it like when you go to photograph at night? Do you set up overnight? Do you leave the camera?What do you usually pack to eat when you go on a photo shoot?
In our modern lives we have learned to fear the darkness and we mostly huddle inside at night. Also light pollution has obscured the beauty of the night sky for 80% or more of people. Going out at night is like reconnecting with the natural world for me. I feel like my senses are on full alert, and I am fully in the moment. You need to maintain a very high level of awareness, and not “daydream” (is it “awake nightdreaming when you do it at night", lol). This has it’s advantages, and worries melt away, and I am only thinking of the present. I generally scout the landscape in the late afternoon and map the trail using GPS. Then I usually go back to the car and watch the sunset and eat a small packed meal (sandwiches and fruit, etc.) in the car. After twilight, I hike to the location using GPS, and generally photograph all night long. I just like being out there at night. Around morning twilight I pack up and go back to my lodging and sleep until early afternoon, get up and have a good meal, and then go out and do it again.
Which country did you have your most unique experience?
My most unique and memorable experiences have been photographing the Ancient Puebloan ruins at night in the Four Corners area of the SW USA. They are also know as the Anasazi or cliff Dwellers. There are many small ruins scattered throughout the canyons of the SW USA. Most require a hike and almost no one visits at night. To stand there and view the night sky and Milky Way is like stepping back in time. This is one of the few experiences we can now share with the people that lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. You are standing in a canyon or on a cliff seeing the same landscape and the same sky that they saw. This is now rarely possible in developed countries. The Ancient Puebloans or Anasazi were a remarkable people living in a harsh land. At night you get a glimpse of what it must have been like to live so isolated in those times.
If I can photograph any sky, I would photographer New Zealand.
Where is the darkest sky in the USA?
The darkest skies in the USA are in the Western half of the country. There are actually DarkSky Apps for smartphones, and I use these to plan my trips. In almost the entire Eastern half of the USA and throughout Europe the Milky Way is obscured by light pollution. The light pollution is simply brighter than most stars. The best areas to photography the night skies are in the Western USA away from cities, and in the mountains, deserts, parks, National Monuments, and on Bureau of Land Management lands. Additionally, the desert areas have less clouds so you have more opportunities for clear nights.