Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Chasing Darkness series?
Chasing Darkness is a photography and video collaboration between astrophotographer Jack Fusco and adventure photographer Jeff Bartlett.
When both photographers recognized the new tourism trend that showcases dark sky preserves and observatories across North America, they were inspired to curate a definitive stargazing destination guide. By combining easy-to-reach locations near major cities with far-flung, bucket-list destinations, their 10-stop lsit is sure to inspire night sky enthusiasts and general travelers alike.
In 2018, they visited the first five locations, creating five unique short films that blend adventure-style video to showcase their travel experience and timelapse video to highlight the dramatic night skies.
The films will be released in January and February 2019, beginning with Chasing Darkness: Alberta, Canada, on January 18th.
Who are the photographers?
Jeff Bartlett focuses on the art and craft of adventure, blending photography, writing and video with a keen passion for story. Through social media, he work highlights landscapes and adventure for a single purpose: to inspire people to get outside and explore. Over the past five years, Jeff has worked with destination marketing organizations, major outdoor retailers and editorial outlets on media and advertising campaigns.
Learn more about Jeff Bartlett and see his portfolio on jeffbartlettmedia.com.
As a touring musician, Jack Fusco's photography started as a way to purely document his travels through both the United States and Europe. Since moving on from music, photography has become his main creative expression. His recent work focuses exclusively on the landscape-astrophotography field.His unique style takes many notes from both astronomy and traditional landscape photography and he'll often plan images days, weeks, or even months and the results reflect his dedication to the craft.
Learn more about Jack Fusco and see his portfolio on jackfusco.com
Where were each episode created?
Episode 1: Alberta, Canada
This film was created while visiting all six dark sky sites in Alberta, Canada, which are: Wood Buffalo National Park, Lakeland Provincial park, Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, Jasper National Park, Cypress Hills Provincial Park and Waterton National Park
Episode 2: Alvord and the Cascades, Oregon
This film was shot in two distinctly different landscapes: The Alvord Desert, in southestern Oregon, and the Cascade Mountains, near Bend.
Episode 3: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
This film was primarily shot at locations all along the Ingraham Trail, just outside the city of Yellowknife.
Episode 4: Bishop, California
Using Bishop as a base, the film was shot in the nearby Inyo National Forest. The key scenes of the film were created at Sabrina and North Lakes.
Episode 5: Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona
These films were created in the darksky communities of Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. We filmed within the towns themselves and the nearby national forests.
How did you choose the five locations featured in the films?
While it would have been easy to do the list based solely off popularity - places like Death Valley or Big Bend - we wanted our list to blend three elements: bucket-list worthy destinations, easy-to-reach locations and unique highlights.
Two Episodes, in Bishop, California and Flagstaff & Sedona, Arizona, highlighted truly easy-to-access locations. Bishop is just three hours from Los Angeles, which makes for an easy weekend trip. The majority of our Sedona video was captured within view of the city.
The Yellowknife video highlights a truly unique highlight. It’s one of the world’s best locations to view the northern lights and, as you’ll see in the film, it didn’t disappoint.
Both the Alberta and Oregon videos represented bucket-list worthy trips. In Alberta, we visited six dark sky preserves. While we recognize most visitors will never see all six locations, each makes worthy destinations of its own. In Oregon, we filmed in the Cascades and the Alvord Desert, which made for a nice contrast. The Cascades are easily recognized, while the Alvord is home to a truly surreal landscape and some of the darkest skies in the lower 48.
What were the biggest challenges you faced while creating the series?
We set out to capture northern lights, meteor showers, and the milky way across North America. It was a logistical feat, more than anything. We spent a great deal of time researching each location, deciding on what season and moon phase would highlight the area best.
A few unique challenges stand out from each shoot, including:
Freezing Conditions - Jack and I have a running joke that someday we’ll work together without the risk of frostbite. Throughout this shoot, we experienced a wild range of temperatures from about +40C to -40C. With the exception of Bishop, California, we experienced below freezing temperatures everywhere.
Unexpected Rain - One criteria we included while selecting these locations was the weather. We wanted to select locations that have consistently clear weather, yet we suffered weather delays in almost every location. Even when traveling to some of North America’s sunniest destinations, the weather is still impossible to predict.
Fatigue - Both Jack and I are used to forgoing sleep to chase a shot; however, these shoots were exceptionally exhausting. We often traveled between areas and scouted locations during the day, filmed video during blue hour and captured timelapses throughout the night.
What is the absolute highlight of the series?
Jeff: I’ll never forget our experience in Wood Buffalo National Park for a few different reasons. Ultimately, it was the most isolated location we visited and it was incredibly remote and wildly underappreciated. To reach Wood Buffalo, we traveled north from Fort McMurray. From Fort Hills to Fort Chipewyan and into the national park, we traveled nearly 300 km on a temporary ice road that is build each November and melts in March. Along the way, we crossed both the Athabasca and Peace rivers, which are both major rivers in my home province. Once we arrived, we had the entire national park - which is literally the size of Switzerland - to ourselves. We were the only two people in the park overnight and temperatures hovered between -25C and -40C. Despite the conditions, we were blown away by the scenery and northern lights that danced in the clear night sky every evening.
Jack: It's so difficult to pick out a single favorite moment from this project so far. The feeling of being out under these dark skies is really incredible and difficult to properly describe with words. I think one of my favorite moments came in Yellowknife, Canada. Although it wasn't the only time I'd be shooting the Northern lights, it was one of the most incredible displays of the aurora I've ever witnessed. The bright greens, purples and whites were so bright and moving so quickly that I was able to take live video of them. Looking back the footage, it still isn't something that seems real.
What equipment did you while creating these films?
We kept things quite simple while creating these films, using dSLR and mirrorless cameras; Sigma Art lenses; miscellaneous video tools like tripods, sliders, gimbals, and drones; and Dell Computers for post processing.
We actually traveled quite light and believe most people could replicate our experiences. Without exception, we flew with a single checked bag and carry on luggage.