Travels Along the Milky Way: A Brief History

Travels Along the Milky Way: A Brief History

June 04, 2017

In the wee hours of the clearest nights, wherever she is, no matter the weather, Eileen Counihan is ready. When most of us are settling down to sleep, Eileen is often venturing into the night. While we're starting to dream, Counihan is wide awake, packing up her camera and flashlights, ready for whatever she may find in the dark. 
During her first visit to the area in the 1970s, Eileen was immediately drawn to photograph Provincetown and the National Seashore due to the intense combination of natural light and landscapes at the tip of Cape Cod. Today, Counihan constantly searches for new ways to incorporate the paradox of darkness and light into her night work, on Cape Cod and beyond.
In late 2013, Counihan drove a 1996 Airstream across Route 66 to spend nights among the Giant Redwoods in California. 
But on October 1st, the U.S. Government shutdown forced the closure of the National Parks, Forests, Seashore and Monuments. Undeterred, Counihan hiked back into the woods just after midnight and began shooting, ultimately capturing what has since become her most collected piece, aptly named Big Red. 
While on a solo trip to photograph the Northern Lights in Alaska, she captured one of the most intense Aurora Borealis displays in decades, enduring extreme Arctic winter temperatures with lows of 40 degrees below zero. 
On the Big Island of Hawaii, she reached the summit of one of the world's darkest locations, the Mauna Kea volcano, just as hurricane force winds exceeded 100 mph. But just as she was starting to shoot, park rangers chased her down from the peak. 
Closer to home on the East Coast, Eileen spends nights along the clear, warm waters of the Florida Keys nestled among mangroves rising from the coral beaches.

When Eileen returns to the tip of Cape Cod, she doesn’t stop. When we’re putting on our pajamas, Eileen is picking out her evening attire, whether it be mosquito netting or long underwear, hiking boots or rubber waders, parkas or tank tops, she’ll be ready for whatever she finds in the night.