Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.



Some of you know that I’ve been taking an online photography course centered on getting images of the Milky Way. There are many many modules, but I’ve been stuck in the first set because I haven’t been able, for months, to get that first single image. And for me it was hard to go on to the next modules that talked about panoramas and stacked and stitched images when I couldn’t get the single image.

A friend and I had a camping trip scheduled for this week. It’s been exactly one year since we camped at this same campground, with it’s walk-in sites far from the world of mega RVs with their generators and large noisy families. Yes, carrying all your stuff down a wooded path to your site is a lot of work. But once again, just like last year, we were the only ones in that section of the campground, and it was heaven.

And, coincidently, this campground is located in a Bortle 2, a part of our state with less light pollution than where I live in a Bortle 4. AND the moon wouldn’t be up to interfere with finding the Milky Way. AND there was one night out of the three we’d be there that the weather folks said would be clear.


According to my Planit app, the Milky Way would rise high enough to see it over the trees by 2 a.m. But my friend and I went out at midnight, after sitting around the fire all evening waiting for it to get dark, just to check out my chosen site, which was at a park at the mouth of the Platt River, where it empties into Lake Michigan.

An image I took of the Platt River while we were waiting for the Milky Way to show up.

It is a wonderful place to star gaze, but of course the Milky Way wasn’t putting in an appearance early, so we went back to the tent to take a nap.

I set my alarm for 2 a.m.

But when the alarm went off I didn’t want to crawl out of my warm(ish) sleeping bag. The temperature was hovering around 40F (4.44C) and everything in me wanted to stay in the tent and hunker down. But when would I ever again be in a dark location on a night that was clear?

So I crawled out of the tent and looked up. Stars, thousands of stars, were there, just hanging in the pine tree boughs above me. I scrambled down the path to the car and headed out to the river, smiling.

And as I carried my camera, already affixed to the tripod, around a building to the river I squealed. Because there it was….the illusive Milky Way, in all it’s glory.

There she is, as if she were just waiting for me to get my act together.

And suddenly I wasn’t cold anymore. Suddenly I didn’t care that it was 2 a.m. I wasn’t worried about waking up early the next morning after being up all night so we could kayak down the river ending up at this very spot.

No, all I could think about were the stars, all I could see were the stars. And in the quiet pre-dawn hours that morning I shot images and grinned, and then just stood there in awe for a very long time. Alone in the quiet I listened to gentle waves lap the shore and watched the stars move across the sky and there was no place I’d rather be.

You’ll have to image that part on your own.

From the boat launch, looking out over the Platt River and then, past the small dunes, to Lake Michigan. See the big dipper up there?

But if you ever have a moment like that you’ll know….It’s magic.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

37 thoughts on “Magic

  1. Wow, just wow! Your pictures are gorgeous! I’m so happy for you that you completed this assignment and can now feel that satisfaction as you move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m excited to move on and see what else there is to learn. I think there is a LOT that I still have to learn, but it feels good to get the first image, after trying for months.


  2. Carol took the words right out of my mouth: Wow. Just wow! Your first photo was pretty enough, but then the Milky Way. Whew, what a beauty. Onward to the next module.


  3. Those pics are incredible! 🤩✨💫


  4. Magic, is right. Always leaves me feeling insignificant but at the same time connected to something bigger than myself. What a wonderful world!


    • I’m always so thrilled to be under a sky like this. Whenever I can get up north into the dark I hope for clear skies…and not too many coyotes howling which kind of unnerves me.


  5. Oh Dawn. I needed that.
    I needed to remember how big it is out there.
    I needed to remember that in many ways,
    We are just a speck.
    I needed to shed some tears for beauty, instead of for dead children.
    Thank you. I can remember the gasping moments when I saw similar scenes with my own eyes.
    Your photos are just beyond words.


  6. Speechless! Thank you. . . !


  7. Wow! Wow! Wow! These pictures are amazing! I concur… It’s MAGIC!


  8. I usually read and scroll down pretty quickly. This time I knew I better not. I better wait for it. And this time, I did the right thing. I read your words slowly and thoughtfully. Your words are perfect. And oh my gosh that photo of the Milky Way is stunning. And then I thought “that isn’t just a photograph … it isn’t just a photograph that happens to be stunning … it’s real life … that’s the real sky and the real Milky Way seen by a real human being.” I may never get to see such a sight, but I know someone who has.


    • I think given your travels, you WILL get to see such a sight someday! And you’ve seen some pretty amazing things in your lifetime. I’m glad you got to see it through my lens this time. I’m looking forward to seeing your next adventure through yours.


  9. Why am I crying reading this?

    I’m so happy for you! What a grand moment, and yes, true magic! Wow!!

    I really needed this today. Thank you Dawn!


    • Oh Sara. I’m sending you huge hugs. I imagine this week has been extra stressful and painful for you. I worry about all my teacher friends, you included, all the time. I’m glad these images gave you a release for some of your tears.


  10. Ah, this is magnificent!! So glad you rustled yourself out of that warm sleeping bag to capture these stunning photos, Dawn. I think we ALL needed to see them … to remind ourselves there’s something bigger and better than the mess we’ve made of our home planet.


  11. Great photos! Well worth the 2 AM cold. I am sure you can zoom in and see more and more stars as you go.


  12. This is an awe-inspiring post, Dawn. Thanks for sharing your incredible images and story. I need to go out of my comfort zone.


  13. Woohoo!! Way to seize the opportunity. Well done, Dawn!


  14. Oh my goodness, Dawn! Your images are outstanding! Those courses definitely worked, I say.
    And how fun that you have someone willing to camp out with you in such circumstances. I am officially jealous!


  15. I thought Wow! too. The middle shot is unbelievable – well worth leaving your cosy tent.


  16. Excellent! You got some great shots!


  17. I meant to read this sooner, Dawn! Holy cow, what amazing photography and well worth all the effort needed to accomplish this!


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