Sometimes it is necessary to get away. Just drop everything for a week and travel to a new place. For months my wife had been browsing AirBnb, looking at houses, shacks, and bungalows that we could stay at all over the country. I only had two requirements for where we would stay:
1. It had to have sky dark enough to see the Milky Way
2. It had to have some place I could fish.
If you've ever seen a map of the United States at night, you would know that you can almost divide the country down the middle by how much light pollution exists. Draw a line north and south straight through Texas and everything to the east is lit up like a Lite-Brite (remember those?), while everything else to the west is darker than....well...a Lite Brite that isn't plugged in. Here's an image from Nasa explaining what I mean: nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html#.U_t9GzJdV8E
See what I mean? There's a reason that when you see timelapses of the night sky they usually are from the western United States. So we had to find a place to go that wasn't surrounded by light, and of course had decent fishing too. This way I could spend the days fishing and the nights timelapse-ing. So we began searching using a mixture of Google maps, AirBnb, and the Jshine Dark Sky Finder. We kept coming back to Arkansas even though it seemed to have too much light pollution. Once you zoom in on the Dark Sky Finder Map though, it is easy to find some pockets that aren't polluted by man-made lights yet. The Buffalo River valley looked especially promising to us.
While we were searching online for places to stay, we also reached out to some friends of ours that had a cabin in the Big Buffalo Valley Historic District, also known as Boxley Valley in Arkansas. Boxley Valley is basically one large historical landmark made up of older protected homesteads, some of the friendliest people, and one of the nicest Baptist churches I have ever visited. It turned out that our friend's cabin in Boxley Valley was in an even better location than the ones we had found online. We ended up staying there for a week, fishing, hiking, and shooting timelapses of the Ozarks.
This place was special. No cell phone service, solar power, rainwater to drink, and I haven't ever seen the Milky Way that clearly before. With fluffy clouds during the day and clear skies at night, the weather was perfect the whole trip. When I filmed in Colorado last Summer, the one wish that I had was to own a motion controlled slider for filming timelapses. I was so excited to bring along my Konova Motorized Slider and Smart Motion Controller to Arkansas. As far as the rest of my equipment goes, my timelapses were shot on a Canon 7D with either a Rokinon 14mm f2.8 or a Canon 24mm f1.4.
A few months ago I began contributing to Lightstock, a stock photography and footage company focusing on Christian imagery. I shot many of the timelapses of this video with contributing them to Lightstock in mind. When you see the little church in the valley, or the cross in front of the Milky Way, I hope you think of Jesus. And if you or your church wants to license any of the timelapses you see in this film, please send me a message, or visit my Lightstock profile at lightstock.com/users/whoismatt
I would also like to thank Mark and Ryan from the band Sleeping At Last. After seeing my timelapse film, Pagosa, they contacted me about using Ryan's music in my timelapse films. I was so happy to find that one of Ryan's songs matched my timelapse film perfectly. Be sure to check out Sleeping At Last's music at sleepingatlast.com/
You can read more about this timelapse and download it in high quality from // whoismatt.com/ozarks