In may of 2017, I went with some fellow photographers to a highway vista point north of Mt Shasta. Like many mountains, Mount Shasta is featured prominently in Native American legends. Local tribes saw the mountain as the center of the universe and integral to their creation myths. Mount Shasta sits on territories held by the Shasta, Wintu, Achumawi, Atsugewi, and Modoc tribes. For me, Mount Shasta has always held a sacred presence in my heart.
Our goal was Milky Way photos with the mountain. Unfortunately, even though it was about 1:00am, there was a lot of traffic along the highway and the car lights kept interfering in the photos.
So I returned to the general area, but chose a spot away from the highway to avoid a repeat of the issue. Instead I chose a location which is along the railroad tracks. My intent was to have the leading lines of the tracks lead you right to the mountain with the Milky Way over top.
I was trying to get all of this into one photo, without much success. I tried high ISO but was too grainy. I tried light painting the tracks, also not successfully. Couldn’t do too long of exposure as I would lose the star points. So I switched to just trying to get good composition of the mountain and the stars. My brother had come along for the adventure and was helping where he could. I had placed the tripod in the center of the tracks trying for those leading lines.
As I was working on the photos, I had heard a train horn in the distance. Considering it is late at night, I know sound really travels, so had plenty of time. However, my brother casually mentioned to me there was a train coming. I very politely said, I knew and would try for just one or two more before moving. He nicely responded, okay, but had a funny tone to his voice. I then looked around and noticed the train was coming around a curve about a half mile away. Oops – I guess I better move!