By Tui Benjamin
A night sky photographer who made $30,000 USD (£22,000) giving lifts to chase sunrises has faced months of sleep deprivation to capture the ultimate starry time lapse – and the results are stunning.
Snapper Brad Shutack is currently on a mission to visit and photograph every national park in the USA – and the Canadian Rockies – during a year-long road trip.
The 29-year-old, from Hamilton Square, New Jersey, funds his adventures by giving rides on car ride app Lyft and can make up to $1,500 (£1,100) a week.
Earlier this month Brad filmed this breathtaking footage of the Milky Way reflected in crystal clear lake waters as it turned over Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon.
Brad, who shares his stunning shots on Instagram, said: “Whenever there’s good weather, I plan my shots so I shoot sunset, astrophotography at night and then sunrise – then I’ll sleep and edit during the day.
“If I’m waking up specifically for sunrise, I might wake up a couple hours before sunrise to set up and capture the moments leading up to sunrise.
“Sometimes I’ll even wake up 4 or 5 hours before, or not even sleep at all, if the shot I am looking to capture requires a hike.
“On this night, after looking at the forecast I noticed there were going to be no clouds in the sky, so it would be the perfect time to shoot night photos.
“With the weather conditions so perfect, I knew I wanted to shoot a time-lapse rather than still photos.
“I thought it was the perfect location to put together a video to watch the stars rotating.
“This was my second attempt in two days shooting a time lapse of the Milky Way over Mt. Hood and I really like how the video came out.
“At first, I wasn’t entirely happy with the group at the fire sitting so close to the lake.
“But then I decided to embrace having them in my shot, so I repositioned my camera to include the entire group and the fire – you can actually see me in the striped sweatshirt sitting with them after I began shooting.
“I like how you can view a little bit of the ‘nightlife’ happening before everyone leaves, and then you cut to the reflection shot when everything is quiet and peaceful when I am all alone.
“The water being so still was an added bonus.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the water when attempting to shoot this time lapse, but after realizing how still the lake was, I knew I needed a shot of the reflection in the lake.”
Brad’s beautiful time lapse footage was filmed between 11.30pm and 5.30am on May 14 into the early hours of May 15.
During the second half of the video, captured from 1.30am onwards, he said the air was so still the lake resembled a sheet of glass.
Brad is not affiliated with Lyft but has been using the company to fund his journey across the United States by giving rides in different cities – making between $800 USD and $1,500 USD a week to pay for his petrol – and last year made $30,000 USD in total on his trip.
He originally left home in June 2017 for what was meant to a four month trip, but after returning to New Jersey in November decided to continue his adventure after Christmas.
Brad now also plans to spend two weeks photographing the Canadian Rockies and is currently in Oregon before working his way down through California and into Arizona, before completing his trip in December 2018.
Brad, who formerly worked in video production and IT, added: “This video has gotten the most positive reaction from any of my photos and videos so far.
“It has been amazing to see that so many people really enjoyed viewing it.
“I have captured clear skies like this before, but never on a lake that was so still and mirror-like, which is why I am particularly happy with how the second shot in the time-lapse came out.
“As I travel, I will spend one to two weeks photographing and then one to two weeks just driving to pay any bills I have and cover any expenses of gas and food.
“The market in each city I drive in is different, but I’ve made as much as $1,500 in one week with the average being around $800.
“I’ve been car camping the entire time to help lower the cost of living, sleeping at rest stops or overlooks near the locations I plan on shooting the sunrise at.”