Jake Egbert Photography Blog

The Dark Night - In Irene's Wake

I have always been impressed by the sheer number of stars I can see on a clear night here in Old Lyme, CT. However, the night sky that followed Hurricane Irene was particularly impressive. With power out all day Sunday for miles around there was almost no discernible glare on the atmosphere from ground lighting. With flights in all the surrounding major cities grounded, there was not a single jet visible in the sky and no con trails anywhere.

I shot some long exposures and was mesmerized by the results I was getting.

In the earlier pictures you can see windows in my home lighted by a battery powered lantern on the ground floor and by a green glow stick in the upstairs bedroom (I couldn't even detect the light upstairs with my naked eye). The intermitent rows of clouds were really moving across the sky and the trees were still being whipped around by the wind. I left the shutter open while I went into the garage to rummage around in the minivan for my earphones (might as well listen to a book while standing for minutes at a time in the silent pitch-black night) and I captured the red LED arm band I was using to see the camera settings along with a surprising 90 degree shift in the direction the clouds were moving.

I captured the Big Dipper, Polaris, and the Little Dipper in several shots and then decided to see what I could get by shooting a few of the infrequent cars that ventured by on the highway.

I set up on the edge of the highway and started my first shot there, wondering how long it would be before another car wandered past. I was just settling in when the big street light right over my head burst suddenly (and loudly) to life, blinding me and nearly causing an involuntary bowel release! The house across the street was the next to explode in a blinding flash, followed in quick succession by each of the other homes on my street. I quickly aborted the shot I was making, certain that all the extra light had ruined it. Turns out I consider that particular shot a keeper. It serves as a reminder of how it felt to be standing out alone in the pitch black night after a day full of uncertainty and destruction when, against all odds, the power was restored. The adrenaline from the initial shock of the light and noise (ever noticed how loud street lights really are?) was soon replaced by an almost euphoric joy! We lost power early in the morning and based on the hundreds of downed trees we'd seen in the area I was convinced we wouldn't have power for days or weeks. (In fact, four days later there are homes within a mile of us that still don't have power.) Cell service was out and since we're on well water we didn't even have cold showers to look forward to in the coming days.

With the power unexpectedly restored my late-night photo shoot was abruptly ended. I headed back inside to reconnect the fridge and freezer to the house current. I plugged in cell phones and set alarm clocks. Then I spent over 20 minutes getting our well pump restarted.

What a day!

Latern in the Window

90 Degree Wind Shift
This shot was long enough to show the apparent rotation of the stars around the North Star off to the left of the frame.

Clouds fleeing over the neighbor's house

None of our trees fell in the storm, luckily

Big Dipper, Polaris, and the Little Dipper

Another shot of Ursa Major and about a million stars.
Can you tell which one is the North Star?

I like the effect of the lighter branches whipping around in the wind.


Long exposure rudely interrupted by the sudden restoration of power!

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