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Travel log

West Nebraska #1

Jesse Attanasio

To start things off, I will introduce my vehicle/home. 

Her name is Graycie Slater

I have outfitted her to my best abilities to create an optimal living/travel vehicle for timelapse photography (or Photography in general really). She gets about 26-27 mpg and a can comfortably sleep me as well as efficiently hold my gear. Here are a couple pictures.

April 24

  • 6:04 pm
    I hit the road for my Journey
  • 8:15 pm
    I exited the interstate to hopefully find some foreground to shoot for sunset. Nothing good came of it, I thought I was going to get a cool reflection of the sunset and a single tree in this small stagnant pond. No bueno, first I walked through a giant thorn bush, then I stepped in swamp mud and nearly lost my shoe. I said screw it and jumped the barbed wire fence, went to take a snap and realized that 24mm was not going to frame the tree and the water right. So I put my head down, cleaned the mud off my shoe and hit the road again.

April 25

  • 1:30 am Arrived at Chimney rock after missing my turn at Ogallala without noticing. Was incredibly disappointed that there are giant spotlights shinning on it, I didn't plan to stick around long enough to timelapse it anyways, but it would have been nice to pull a decent star photo with it... (maybe I'll go back and lineup with north star for  funnsie)
  • 3:00 am

Luckily found Carhenge in the dark. Immediately setup for a timelapse of the milky way and took some stills while I waited.

Click to see full image on flickr

Click to see full image on flickr

  • 7:30 am

After stopping a few times to shoot the crescent moon, an abandoned house, and chasing a giant owl I was hoping to frame up with the moon. I finally made my way to Toadstool campground. No one was there so I did a quick hike and scouted out possible locations for sunset and night sky stuff. Once I fell down while climbing on some of the formations I realized that I had to get some sleep

  • Post sleeping

Not really sure when I woke up, but I know I was unsure if the sunset would be worth hiking. But I mean I drove this far. Might as well right!? Packed up my bag and hit the trails. About halfway to where I thought I wanted to go, I realized I forgot my flashlights. Oh well, keep on hiking. 

  • 8:00 pm
    Reached the spot I wanted to shoot from. It had an awesome view of not only toadstool, but a sweet overlook to view the sunset as well. The overcast was breaking apart and I saw high potential for some good sun rays to burst as it set so I setup a static timelapse with my 200mm. Once that was setup, I set off to find a good spot for my second camera, I knew I wanted to involve motion in this one, but didnt know if I should go all out or not since the sky was rather uninteresting and the sunset was already being taken care of with my other camera. I ended up setting up a shot with chronos lite that climbed from one formation to the other. Silly me didn't setup a bulb ramper on either of these shots so I was running back and fourth every couple of minutes to adjust the shutter as the light changed.

Once both shots were done, I figured I should hurry and get back to the trail since I had no flashlight or anything. I climbed down a different way than I came up because it looked like it was a safer route and had a straight shot to the trail. Boy I was wrong. All of a sudden I was trapped in a corner, looking up at another 100 foot wall of dirt that I had to climb to find out where the hell I even was. Once I found a way to the top, Which took a ton out of me since I am carrying roughly 40-50 lbs on my back, I found out that I was standing about 5 feet from where I climbed down at. So I said screw it and hiked back down the way I came up, I fell pretty hard but nothing seemed to be broken so I trekked on. Once I got to the trail I immediately thought, I should tell people not to hike without flashlights and posted it directly to instagram.

April 26

  • 3:00 am
    After waiting for way too long for the clouds to break enough for some stars, it looked like it was "game on". I only went out with one camera and my chronos lite rail because the milky way wasn't going to be up for long before the sun rose up and I wanted to get a few stills of some stuff I saw on an earlier hike.
  • 5:45 am
    The moon was rising quickly and the sun would be soon too so I really didn't get ALL of the stills I was hoping for, but I knew my timelapse was definitely blown out from the light and I ran to the campground to refill on batteries, memory and grabbed another motion control device. I figure, if Im going to be up for sunrise anyways, might as well timelapse it! 
  • 7:00 am 
    Plug all batteries in, eat a sandwich and fall asleep with the trunk open and the birds chirpin
  • 11:00 am 
    Woke up from my nap, it was all overcast and the weather said it would rain. I decided I might as well start slowly making my way back towards home. I got in my car and started heading towards what I thought was Chadron, NE. Next thing I know, I  see a sign for Hot Springs, SD XX miles... I grabbed my phone and looked up how long it would be to turn around and go back and it was the same amount of time as if I kept driving and the took 385 to Chadron. 

  • 7:00 pm
    I pull into my next place to sleep for the night, Merrit Resevoir. Now as much as I love about the dark skies at this place. I have never been there where it wasn't miserable windy and I always leave there with a ton of sand in everything I own. But I have a specific camping spot I like there thats pretty secluded away and since I really just was there for a place to crash I didn't mind the overcast skies and cold wind.

April 27

  • 7:30 am

I figured since I wouldn't be able to shoot night skies I might as well attempt to intercept one of the storms rolling into Nebraska and try to get in front of it for some timelapse. Apparently none of my friends who chase storms wanted to help put me at a photogenic storm or even to make sure to tell me where to put myself since obviously I was going to go regardless. Anyways enough of the bitterness. I started heading south from Merrit towards North Platte hoping to taking the interstate either right into a storm. When i stopped at Starbucks for some coffee in North Platte, I used their free wifi to buy a good NOAA app (weather radar). I saw that all of the action was South Eastern Nebraska or lower so I guess even though I was clear in North Platte, I thought I could catch up? Nope. I finally gave up just outside of Nebraska City. Drove down some dirt roads and then figured I would go to Lincoln since the it could still be a good sunset to timelapse. 

  • 3:43 pm
    I get a message from a storm chaser urging me to go towards Henderson if I want a storm. I immediately through that in my GPS, find a place to fill up on gas and hit the road again. I ended up taking exit 360 because I didn't want to get too close under it because I wanted to use motion control equipment and not worry about rain.
  • 6:30
    I finally get to a place I think will be decent to catch the motion of the storm, plus there was another smaller one right behind it that I was hoping might form into something good when it got to me. I quickly setup my emotimo with a rain jacket for my camera just in case. Then I setup my chronos lite rail, Its amazing how fast and simple systems are to setup when your frantically trying to get everything else in order haha. I noticed that the second storm I saw behind the one I followed was coming into a decent position for a good sunset OP so I ran as far away from the stuff I already shot and setup on the end of a hill so the foreground wasn't too similar to the other timelapses I shot. This time I setup a static timelapse but used a 3 stop graduated Neutral Density filter to correctly exposit the bright sun coming down from the thick clouds. I ended up shooting a panorama and a extreme closeup of the clouds while I waited on that and then decided it was time to pack up and go home. A warm bed was sounding real good right about then.
  • 10:ish pm
    Arrived at home, imported 5x 32gb and 1x 64gb SD cards and immediately pass out after.


Until next time..

Trip Stats:
1500+ miles
10 tanks of gas
$50 in food supplies
11 timelapses
1 porcupine encouter

Here is a map of  my route, but clicking this link might be easier since google puts an obnoxious box over the map. Click Here