How is photographing the Milky Way similar to accessing your own insights about your life?
Because I am fascinated by the Milky Way, I wanted to capture it in a photo. I researched and purchased a full-format digital camera, tripod, remote shutter release, wide angle lens, a tactical flashlight (for ‘light painting’ the foreground), a headlamp with a red LED light option, and a few other odds and ends. I got Adobe Lightroom because I needed a good photo editing software program. Also, I got a small, portable external hard-drive because RAW photo files take up a lot of memory. I learned photography in design school in my twenties, but I had not done this kind of photography before. I spent the next four months learning from online classes and lectures on how to use this camera (rather, this “camera computer,” because it is so technical now), how to use Lightroom, how to select a location, and how to take a shot at night.
Far in advance, I chose an official “dark sky location” destination in the desert of Utah and decided to travel there during the new moon phase (no moonlight) in order to have the sky at its absolute darkest. Once I was there, I chose my exact location for this photo shoot. I got my gear together, many bottles of water, snacks, and a jacket for warmth late in the night. My spouse and I hiked out to Delicate Arch starting at 6pm from the parking area. It was a miracle that the sky was clear, no clouds. And for the rest of my trip the following days, there was lots of cloud cover.
The hike was arduous, took me straight up the red rocks, in the blazing 105 degree heat, while carrying heavy camera gear and tripod. I hoped my knees would hold out. I am afraid of heights, and so there were times when I needed to hug the canyon’s red-hued walls. There was not much shade along the way, except a few scrubby juniper bushes here and there, and at a few points I felt nauseated from heat exhaustion. My clothing was soaked with sweat when I reached the peak about 1 ½ hours later. I was glad that the desert air is so dry, and I hoped that in an hour or two that my clothing would be dry.
I set up my camera and waited four hours to start taking photos. The red rock where I sat sent healing energy right up through my root chakra.
It is amazing to me that due to light pollution at night, where most of us live, that we cannot see the stars. How separate I feel from that human privilege of seeing the stars around me every single night of my life. Behind me in the West the sun set a glorious reddish orange, while to the East the sky slowly filled with millions of stars. And above the hole through the massive arch I could see Mars sparkle. Then I saw the huge sash of the Milky Way start its ascent across the expanse of sky!
In night photography, it is necessary to open the shutter on the camera for a while in order to let in enough light for correct exposure. With a 14 mm lens at F2.8, and an ISO of 3200, I set the exposure for 25 seconds. This seems very short, but in reality it is a long time to have the shutter open when you are standing next to your tripod. This is why a wireless remote shutter release is helpful, so you aren’t actually touching the camera, causing it to shake, blurring the exposure. A lot can happen in those 25 seconds. Many planes flew across the sky during those seconds, leaving light trails in the photos (not desirable for this scene). People and other photographers moved around in the foreground with their headlamps, too.
Like the night sky, full of millions of stars, hidden in the light pollution or in the daylight, we don’t know that the information that we need in our intuition is there for us. We need to access it. I believe that blocks that we have to receiving gifts in our lives, manifesting our dreams, come from information that we may be holding in our subconscious. It is waiting to be revealed. We can do this by allowing our “shutter,” our insight, to remain open just a little longer.
One of the things I’ve noticed, when I have worked on my own blocks related to abundance in my life, is that when I uncover these blocks, I am surprised by what I discover. It is arresting and astounding to see just how many points of light are right there in front of me, and inside all of us, that we can’t quite see so easily.
Over the years, I have done a tremendous amount of soul work in order to understand the experiences in my life. It was a delight to find a particular tool to reach even deeper into myself that wasn’t so laborious. In fact, it brought me joy and peace while I was in the middle of the process! This method is the one I have created, and the one that I use with my clients called the Abundance Manifest Journey. The journey I took within myself opened the camera shutter to my insight and let the light in. I never suspected that this particular message or belief, held deep down inside, was important for me to know and integrate, rewrite, and recreate. I was able to rewrite the story for myself on this peaceful journey, while I was in a state of deep relaxation and slight hypnosis.
Weeks later, I reflected upon the journey. I thought, of course, that the information was there all along. I had not been able to see it. I allowed this awareness to bubble up through the pool of my intuition and insight. I allowed it to rise up, like the Milky Way in the night sky, from my subconscious. Finally I was able to deal with this information through awareness and guidance in a simple way. Now I find that the block to my abundance, for the particular situation I was dealing with, simply isn’t there anymore. It was integrated into my story and I moved forward. That journey was easier than hiking up to Delicate Arch, and well worth the trip.
Insight, and the Milky Way, are glorious things!
I believe that the best healing we can do for ourselves is to use our own intuition and insight, rather than having someone point it out for us. This is why doing this technique with my clients, guiding them in their own self-discovery, has been so successful. If you are interested in taking a Guided Journey with me, see my Services page for more information.
Articles and photo copyright of Rebecca Mitchell-Guthrie and not to be reprinted without permission.