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The beginning of an adventure
In July of 2018, I set out on a road trip through the United States with two of my best friends, Alex and Rune. In just 16 days, we visited 10 states, traveled over 7,000 kilometers, and took hundreds of photos. We were able to travel on a small budget by living out of our car, pitching our tent in national forests, and staying on friend’s couches.
We had spent the whole day driving from Vancouver BC to make it to California by dinnertime. Truth be told, Alex had been craving In-N-Out burgers for years, and when he expressed the need to have one of their burgers on the first day of our road trip, Rune and I laughed and agreed. For those who aren’t familiar, In-N-Out is a fast-food chain that sources local ingredients and is ridiculously affordable and delicious. They’re able to keep prices reasonable by only having a few restaurants and restricting them mainly to California.
After filling ourselves up at the northernmost In-N-Out – in Grants Pass – we continued our drive into California. As the sun was slowly starting to set over the mountains, we were setting up camp in a little clearing. We had followed an old forestry road near Gasquet, in northern California, and drove as far as the terrain would allow our small Mazda to go.
Prior to setting out for this road trip, we had familiarized ourselves with the rules of dispersed camping and had applied for all the necessary permits, which allowed for a lot of flexibility with last minute accommodations on our trip. By last minute accommodations, I mean setting up camp in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t plan to pitch our tent where we did and had gotten lost a few times trying to find somewhere to sleep, but it was the most perfect mistake anyone of us could have ever made.
At night fall, we were all wide awake, too excited to sleep, and thinking of the adventures ahead. The sweet summer air was warm and inviting, and the stars were the brightest any of us had ever seen. We were so far from any city, on the side of mountain overlooking a lush valley, there was seldom any light pollution. This was it. This was what spontaneous wandering was about, this is what traveling was about, and this is what summers were made for.
That night, we started taking silly group photos, which became a consistent theme through our road trip, as they progressively became more intricate and ridiculous. This night was the perfect start to our summer adventures.
Looking to recreate this starry photo?
Use a low aperture, a slow shutter speed, and a tripod. Typically, night shots will require you to have a higher ISO as well. While a high ISO might brighten your image, be careful when using it as it creates more grain and degrades the quality of your image. These were the specs for my image:
Focal Length 18; 15 second shutter speed; F3.5; ISO 800