Astrophotography and Coyotes

A few nights ago, on the night of a new moon and on the cusp of completing my master’s degree, I drove out to what felt like the middle of nowhere to see the night sky. It’d been a while. Throughout this whole pandemic (as well as my self-imposed isolation to focus on my thesis), I’ve often found myself missing the night sky and the sight of the milky way. Overall, I just missed being out and shooting!

I’d spent most of that evening hanging out by the river while watching the sunset and based on the stars I began to see popping up beyond the twilight, I knew I had to be out there. So I charged my devices, got my gear ready and hit the road at 1 am bound for Munster. As I got further and further away from the city, I knew I was in for some good conditions based on the stars that began to appear.

After a 40 minute drive I ended up on an old dirt road by a farmer’s field past Richmond. Being alone, in the middle of nowhere, I naturally felt a bit on edge but the sight of the night sky AND the fireflies eased my worries. I’d never seen so many fireflies in my life and it was beautiful!

So I set my gear up and began shooting. I wasn’t too happy with the overhead power lines so I thought to remedy the situation by walking further down the dirt road and onto the field. Upon taking a few steps onto the path I heard something that startled me. I instantly jolted back towards the car, flashing both my headlamp and my phone into the darkness, half-expecting to see a pair of eyes gazing back at me. Nothing. My heart rate was racing but I calmed down and began focusing on the next few shots. Deciding not to walk out onto the field again, I readjusted the tripod to account for the overhead lines.

Two shots later and wondering if I’d gotten the focus set correctly, I heard another noise. This time behind me, louder, and more aggressive – a low rumbling and angry sounding snarl. Whatever it was was not happy that I was there. Fortunately, minutes before, I had prepared for such an occurrence by shortening my tripod’s legs and staying close to the open car door. Upon hearing the growl I jumped into my car and scrambled to close the door but the tripod’s legs were still too long! So I awkwardly fidgeted around with it until I could slam the door and immediately bolt.

I turned the car around and shone the high beams expecting to see a coyote or something of the sort but I saw nothing. I was a bit bummed, I mean I was there for all of 10 minutes and took only 3 shots BUT in hindsight it’s a funny story, the shots turned out and most importantly I’m safe and sound.

Definitely makes me want to shoot astrophotography with company in future instances, however.

Oh and if you’re wondering, this was the last (and my favourite) shot I took before I ran off.

Munster, Ontario

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