Dean M. Chriss
Night Hiker Falls, Victoria, Australia

Night Hiker Falls, Victoria, Australia

(Click image to enlarge)

When the days are sunny and you need soft and subdued light for a photograph, you can wait for a cloudy day or take the picture just after sunset. If you choose the latter and the subject is some distance by trail in a dense forest, the endeavor involves some night hiking. I had no headlamp or flashlight, and courtesy of a couple wrong turns arrived at the trailhead later than I'd like.

In summer it can take nearly an hour hour for the sky to reach minimum luminance after sunset in this location. On a clear night with no moon the illumination is about 0.001 lux, which is the minimum in which humans can see. On this night there would also be a bit of moonlight. To make up for that the dense forest canopy would block most of it.

The trail to the waterfall was steep and continuously downhill, making it a fast hike in and a slow hike out. I didn't know that until I was at the waterfall. I have done things like this many times in America's deserts, but was a little concerned about the lack of light under the forest canopy.

Any bright light instantly destroys night vision for at least 30 minutes, so it is always best to walk without using a light at night until it is truly needed. On several occasions I have had people wreck my night vision by offering "help" I didn't want or need with their flashlights! On this trail there was not another soul. When I emerged from the forest there was an unbelievable increase in the amount of light. It almost made me wonder why I hurried.