Sunday, July 31, 2011

Travel TidBits: Star Tracks

Starry Night

After exploring the fireworks on July 4rth and the last full moon, from explosion of colors to a romantic themes, I wanted to experiment more with the ‘light of the night’ or the absence?

This weekend in the Sierra after the sun had set and the stars came out on a clear sky, I set up my tripod and camera to explore.  I choose the edge of a golf course, quiet and dark with some lights for the club house in the distance.  Since I wanted to capture the earth rotation, I set my camera on manual: Bulb and left the shutter open for 20-35 minutes.  This would be a long night!!

But patience was rewarded:

Now for those interested in the technical aspects, here are some specifics:

The Gear:
You need a camera with manual: Bulb setting, a tripod is a must and so is a cable release with release lock– nobody can hold a finger on the shutter release for 30 minutes!!  A wide angle lens – I have seen images done with a fish eye lens and would like to experiment with that in the future.  I used a 24-120mm lens.

The Camera setting:
My setting for the above image was:
f/5.6; ISO 200;  manual focus: infinity; 
Long exposure: noise reduction on;
Vibration reduction on lens: off;
Open shutter:  31 minutes.

What did I learn:
Powering your camera!
I shot 5 images – hanging around for 2 ½ hours and admiring the sky!
However, after I closed the shutter of the 3rd image and waited for the image to process, nothing happened.  Starting to troubleshoot, I noticed that the camera was off!  My battery had run out of juice after 2 images!!  ½ hour wasted for nothing but lesson learned!! 

Although it is hard to even see the composition, the image above with a bit of the foreground was the most pleasing to me.  Here is another one with less foreground:

The mystery in this image is the source of the light on the left which counter balances the vegetation in the right.

These images may not be the most glamorous ones -  and I have seen quite creative ones in my search on the web - but I was happy when I turned in well after midnight – and I know I will be out at night again to capture the mystery of the night!!

If you would like to learn more about night photography, 
check out my next Full Moon Photo Workshops.

For further resources: