Trusting the weather forecast for clear night skies, I setup on top of Sam's Knob in the Pisgah National Forest to photograph the Milky Way later that night. I was concerned when I arrived to see all the clouds still in the sky over Black Balsam Knob shortly before sunset but the massive Cumulonimbus cloud made a beautiful canvas for the setting sun! Fortunately the sky to the west was clear so I went to sleep very excited about seeing the stars later that night.
I got up twice during the night to photograph the Milky Way in different positions in the sky with respect to the campsite and other interesting rocks. I used my tent as a giant "softbox" by putting a flash inside and using the tent to diffuse the light to illuminate the foreground and myself. The Milky Way is amazing and stretches across the entire sky. However the brightest spot is closest to the southern horizon. Therefore once I had a good image of the foreground, I started taking multiple images following the Milky Way above me which I then stitched together into a panorama in Lightroom. Finally I merged the foreground photographs with the panorama to create these huge images of the night sky.
I was treated to another unexpected bonus on the drive home. I took the scenic route along the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at a few overlooks to see the sunrise. However as I came up on the Buck Spring Tunnel the low angle of the sun was beautifully lighting the tunnel. Passing through the darkness into the warm sunrise I was thankful for this beautiful world and the "light of life" God has provided.
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12, ESV)