The Nights Watch in Glacier National Park

Hi I’m Martin Zlatkin, you may remember me from such blogs as: Presenting in Smithers, Bearing down on Kluane, and Exposing Kinaskan. These blogs I’ve written for your enjoyment are quite nearest and dearest to me. I feel honored that you have chosen to read my blog for the fourth time and if this happens to be the first time you are reading my blog, enjoy. If you have been reading my blogs you may be saying to yourself “Martin, with all these cool things you are doing when do you have time for work?” I’m glad you asked that because although most of what we do seems like fun it’s actually what we do for work! But don’t fret, we work all hours of every day, even in the evening. But once again we may say we are working although we are having fun doing it, you know you found the job for you when it’s not a chore to go to work. I mentioned that we work all hours of the day, even at night and you may be wondering “how would you collect insects at night?” that’s a great question valued blog viewer. We employ a device called a night sheet.Blog post 26_August 8 2014_Photo 1

A night sheet is simple enough to set up, it’s a white sheet pinned up vertically with an ultra violet light strung up next to it. Normally insects follow the UV light reflected from the moon but are instead tricked in to following the UV light on the night sheet. Once we have the night sheet set up we check on it every thirty minutes. We do this because as the night goes on different insects will emerge at different times. Night sheets are very exciting because you never know what you might catch at night, sometimes there are hundreds of moths flying around the sheet or sometimes there is nothing, these are the times were become very disheartened and have to give up on the night sheet. This night sheet proved to be better than the night sheets we’ve done before in other parks, this is mainly because it actually gets dark here! In the Yukon we had, maybe, four hours of semi darkness, here the night begins at nine o’clock and stays dark till dawn! But of course when were are not checking out our night sheet we are free to spend our time as we choose, and of course I took the time to take some pictures of the sky.

Blog post 26_August 8 2014_Photo 2               I’ve learnt a lot about taking pictures of the stars since last week and everything I said last week is good advice for taking pictures of stars with star trails. Now I’ll teach you how to take beautiful pictures of the stars and even the Milky Way (if it happens to be above you). Firstly, forget everything I said last week… done? Good. Now the trick is to have a very small F-stop number, or in other words a very large aperture diameter. This will allow for your camera sensor to be exposed to more light. Next, set your ISO to as high as it can go, for me that was 3200, the larger the ISO the more sensitive to light your camera will be but it will also make the picture grainier but don’t worry too much about that. Finally set your exposure time to 30 seconds, set your camera on a tripod and shoot the sky. It also helps if it’s a new moon because otherwise the moon reflects too much light and may end up ruining your picture.

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