If asked to share one thing for which Humboldt County is best known, most would agree: Our dark skies provide excellent night sky viewing and photographic opportunities. But who would also think of outdoor cannabis? Yet it is an actual thing, I hear. And evidently, the two subjects work well when mixed together, like two great tastes ....
So, I did. I present to you here what I found when I mixed outings into California North Coast's dark skies with some of Humboldt's finest. It is too early in the season for outdoor cannabis growing as I write this, so these images from earlier times are previews of the season's coming attractions.
While the typical outdoor growing season lasts from spring through fall, the North Coast's skies offer outstanding year-round stargazing, weather permitting, if you drive a little way out of town. They are not far from anywhere.
The view of the skies changes with the seasons, gradually shifting the constellations and planets across the sky through the months. The moon cycles through its phases throughout the season. For some, the highlight of the night is the Milky Way, that path of light that stretches across our night sky soon after dark in the summer and fall seasons. If you are an early bird, you'll find it instead in the predawn hours in the first few months of the year, reaching from the southeast to the north.
We see our galaxy, the Milky Way as lighter than the rest of the night sky because when we look toward it, we are looking through our pinwheel-shaped galaxy edge-on, right through the densest number of stars, glowing nebulae, etc. In our edge-on view, all of it blends together into indistinct milkiness in the vast interstellar distances involved. The Galactic Core is the center of the galaxy and this densest region, the part with the greatest visible detail from Earth, can be seen at the southern end of the Milky Way. I admit to being fascinated by it. It is a true wonder in the universe.
The North Coast's dark skies are dazzling and, in combination with its finest outdoor cannabis, any evening can be a terrific nighttime photographic outing. With camping, glamping and cannabis tours in the area, opportunities abound for enjoying either — or, should you be so inclined, the two together.
To keep abreast of David Wilson's (he/him) photography or purchase a print, visit www.mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx and on Twitter @davidwilson_mfx. He teaches Art 35 Digital Photography at College of the Redwoods.