November & December 2017: Winter Nocturne

Photos by John Ashley

Many are the nights that have enveloped me in the stars. I have taken dark night skies for granted. Only during my years of living in Seattle, Washington, and Santiago, Chile, were night skies hidden from my view by the pollution of bright city lights. And then, quite frankly, I was too busy with graduate school and exploring the Chilean culture to really notice or miss them. Plus, my many camping trips and excursions to the Cascade and Andes Mountains respectively brought them back to me.

Night skies sing to me. My mind is full of memories and images of the spectacular aurora borealis during long Alaska winter nights: the scary, dark forest nights of the new moon when our fires cast creepy shadows all around, searching for the evening star, lying awake with my children on the deck to count the meteors falling, and learning to read the southern hemisphere stars. Night skies give rise to night visions and mythical dreams. They have sung their songs to all of earth’s creatures throughout the ages. Earth’s predictable day-and-night cycles are encoded within the DNA of all life—plants and animals alike

It is all too easy to underappreciate that which is common in one’s life. In all too many parts of the world, night skies no longer exist. Humans, other animals, and even the plants have all been disrupted by man’s invading night lights. Thankfully, we have people among us who deeply understand and tirelessly work to bring it back to our attention, to acknowledge the tremendous value of night skies, and to motive us to protect it.

John Ashley is one such person. He has a broad range of interests and an equally broad range of talents and skills. A wildlife biologist, a journalist, and one of the world’s most artistic photographers, John Ashley does what few will do to capture night skies in stunningly beautiful ways that take our breath away and show what is truly at stake as our world shrouds them from view.

My most recent article in Distinctly Montana showcases John’s work, and more specifically his book, Glacier Park After Dark. I hope you will read it. If you haven’t visited John Ashley’s website or Facebook Page, you are truly missing out. His sensitivity to the world, its moods, its splendor, and its peril, are captured through his photography.


Horses and ospreys and wildlife and night skies, OH MY!

Come to Dunrovin Ranch to work with John Ashley for a four-day, three-night photographic extravaganza on June 12, 13, 14, and 15, 2018. We will travel to a forest lookout to view, study, and photograph the night sky, rise early in the morning to stalk the osprey catching their first fish of the day, play with lights and your imaginations with horses in the pastures, and ride out on horseback to find wildflowers in all their glory.

Call Dunrovin Ranch at 406-283-7745 to register today. Cost is $1,289 per person and includes lodging (double occupancy), food, activities, and instruction.


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