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Indian Head

Jon Secord
New York

As much as I love randomly stumbling onto great scenes to photograph, I find the most rewarding images to be the ones I spend a lot of time planning. One night last year, while browsing through Instagram, I found a photo of an amazing spot over in upstate NY. Indian Head is in the Adirondacks, looking down from a large cliff onto Lower Ausable Lake, and I knew immediately I had to go. After doing some research, I knew that the Milky Way would line up perfectly with the view sometime in August, and the waiting began- I just had to pray that I'd have clear skies when the time finally came.

Finally, almost a year later, we approached the new moon in August. With clear skies in the forecast, we packed up the car and made the four hour drive from New Hampshire to upstate New York. There's something about traveling that can be so inspiring as a photographer, and we saw countless amazing scenes along the way worthy of stopping at, but we had a mission to accomplish. After stopping to stock up on energy bars and Red Bull, we arrived at the trailhead just after sunset. I love the nervous excitement I get when arriving to a new location....would everything go as planned?

Hiking in the dark can be so fun.

We heard a Great Horned Owl calling out in the woods as we hiked the four miles up to the cliffs. Stepping out, I knew this would going to be an incredible night- it was so dark we could barely see a few feet in front of us! After getting our bearings and figuring out where the edge of the cliff was, we switched off our headlamps to check out the night sky. Here in New Hampshire, there is a lot of light pollution visible from the higher summits of the White Mountains. Not so, here. As our eyes adjusted to the dark, we could see stars reflecting off the lake hundreds of feet below us. Everything happened to line up during the Perseid Meteor Shower, so as we waited for the Milky Way core to move into position, we sat and watched bright meteors. After about an hour, I started shooting photos. During one of my last 20 second exposures, I saw a huge fireball meteor flash, and was so stoked that it ended up in my frame! After finishing up shooting and taking one last look at the amazing scene in front of us, we made the hike back down to the car.

This trip was one of the best adventures I've been on...

and I can't wait to head back to this area! If you're in the Northeast and are looking for an amazing area to photograph the night sky, take a trip to the ADK.

jon secord indian head
jon secord indian head