APOD inspired short stories?

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Baffled Boffin
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APOD inspired short stories?

Post by RJN » Sat May 22, 2010 6:37 pm

First, I doubt that any of these will ever be written, but who knows? This idea is write and share freely APOD-based short stories. Does APOD or the Asterisk really need any short stories? No. Is this a bit too APOD-happy-esque? Probably. Anyway, here goes.

First (again), astrophotographers should be encouraged to share their back stories about taking pictures that appeared on APOD. That would be interesting even without the short story idea. I think that some astrophotographers would want to share their stories if so encouraged, if they only thought others would find it interesting. Therefore, Asterisk regulars (and you might well be one if you are reading this) might query these astrophotographers about their back stories when they (albeit rarely) respond on the Asterisk thread for that APOD. I have heard a few of these back stories, and some seem interesting, funny, and are an inspiring combination of planning, perseverance, and set backs, with even personal and legal side issues. That would be the first half of a story.

The second half of the story would be how the image affected the life of somebody who saw it. Now surely the vast majority of APOD viewers would not have a deep or moving story to tell about how a specific APOD affected their life. Still, at a million page views a day, I would bet that there surely are SOME interesting stories out there. These would be harder to find, and possibly harder to get people to write and share.

I just think it would be neat to see these two stories actually connected and read, one right after the other. Now the point of this would NOT be to demonstrate how wonderful APOD is, since this could occur for any image, but to use APOD and the Asterisk as a relatively coherent social vehicle to collect and connect stories of this type.


Bret Webster
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:01 pm

APOD inspired short stories? - short ramble to begin

Post by Bret Webster » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:14 pm

I have been reveling and adventuring around the Colorado Plateau desert my entire life. I just love it…can’t resist it...can’t stay away for very long ever and it just gets worse as the years go by.

In April 2009 after getting my wife a fine Digital Elph (with HD video even!) for her birthday and witnessing her poorly disguised disappointment I then had to resist her demand to now spend a significant amount on a “nice” camera. The argument went on for months rather heatedly at times until she finally won out. Then we spent another 6 weeks arguing over which camera…Nikon?? Canon?? I don’t want you to think we’re argumentative either…we’re not! But ultimately she got her way on both accounts – get a camera and get the one she wanted.

The good news is that I realized that the camera was ultimately actually mine anyway within days after it arrived. I had never played with such a thing! After astonishingly discovering that I could noisily image the Milky Way while at our retreat in Moab, Utah, I set out with obsessive passion to improve my technique...figure out how to remove/prevent noise – what lens, what angles, etc.

After a few months of consuming, obsessive effort at this and painstakingly improving my technique I eventually did a Google search of something like "how to shoot the Milky Way" or similar – well the first thing that popped up....I was stunned...I was exhilarated and I was completely and wholly devastated to come across Wally Pacholka's image of the False Kiva. Exhilarated because it is such a beautiful shot and to mention that I have Tom Till's image of the exact same location hanging very large as the center piece of my dining room for 15 years prior. Devastated to find that I had not actually discovered for humanity this medium of combining illuminated foregrounds of my beautiful desert with backgrounds of the cosmos/Milky Way. lol Oh NO! No – in fact Wally had been doing it for decades and was unbelievably good at producing beautiful images that I immediately loved - every single damn one. Oh and look!...there’s TWAN! And and there’s Babak Tafreshi!...oh and other’s… many others! What a fool I am.

I thought about bagging my inspiration. I almost quit. How disappointing to find that I wasn’t the only person on Earth who was on to running around the desert at night taking pictures. But I just couldn’t. Maybe there was room for a few more trying to capture these beautiful scenes. Hell I was out doing it anyway and hadn’t really thought past sharing some of them with my family and friends.

Eventually I recovered and was mostly inspired...it's a big desert out there and I’ve been taking lots of images every second I can since then...mostly trying to avoid those images already taken. BTW - Wally is such a great person. We’ve discussed and shared stories. We’ve compared notes on how it feels to be standing say in Arches NP in the middle of the night with a sky so blazingly magnificent you feel like you should run to town shouting to let people know. How amazing it is that there aren’t thousands of people there witnessing the same spectacle. The Greatest Movie ever played and on the biggest screen imaginable! And yet they’re not…you have the place to yourself…you literally own a National Park! Wally’s been an awesome help and has my highest respect, regards, friendship and gratitude for his support and counsel! If you haven’t been there you just might take a gander at http://www.astropics.com/ and see some of his 37 or so APODs among other beautiful images.

I've now sold the argued-over camera and bought two more far more expensive than the first with a host of lenses even more expensive than that.

I think we’re supposed to address relevance to a particular APOD and I do want to share some of my experience about the Ghost Panel shot of 19 May APOD. In a separate submittal I hope to share my experience in planning the shot for months, waiting for the temps to warm, getting in (and out) and sitting silently as the sun set on the Ghost Panel in Canyonlands NP and darkness set in…trying to sense if there’s any malevolence issuing from that intimidating panel. I’m no mystic for sure…on the contrary a career scientist..but I couldn’t help trying to figure out if I should be scared or not...