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Posts tagged ‘stars’

Ad astra per aspera…

 

The title for this shot is latin for “To the stars, through difficulties.” By which I mean, some shots look deceivingly simple, but are anything but. Take this one, for instance. We’ve all gazed up at the sky since we were kids and picked out the seven stars that fill the outline of the Big Dipper. I love stargazing and especially at the beach on a moonless night, when this image was taken. But despite the “simple” composition, I can assure you this scene took a lot of effort to finally achieve. After setting up the tripod  I practiced over and over again on random star shots to figure out the right exposure. Too short and the stars were too dim; too long and they begin to show trails. Too little ISO and you get nothing; too much and you have an abundance of noise. Even basic exposure was a highly technical challenge! But once I finally got to the right exposure setting, i realized I had another challenge. I had set up my tripod, of course and while it was easy to focus on a random patch of night sky for starlight, actually capturing the constellation, in its entirety, was nearly impossible at night, through my lens. Because the pinpricks of light were so tiny, I literally could see nothing but blackness! I decided to simply widen my frame of view, roughly calculate the angle I was shooting at, relative to my naked eye’s viewing of the Dipper, and fired. Within a couple of shots, I had my prize.

Again, this shot won’t win any awards for artistic composition or exceptional talent or skill, but as a serious amateur photographer, I think it’s important not to rest on laurels, continuing to shoot what comes easy. This shot was a personal challenge for me, and one that, after a lot of work, rewarded me with a “personal best.” So keep shooting for the stars! Hope you enjoy…

Starry, starry night…

I’ve been away for a while and partly because I was traveling, on vacation, and creating images instead of sitting inside and editing them (a balance which far too often gets skewed toward the latter instead of the former). So after a madcap week of catching up on 9-5 duties, I have a little time to leisurely look back and play with some of my latest efforts. We took a family vacation to the beach–to the pristine beaches at South Walton–and I spent the normal amount of time just drinking in the coastal landscape and taking fun memory shots of my family. It’s always a battery re-charging experience down there, to be sure.

But I also try each year to challenge myself to a fresh assignment. One year I captured lightening over the Gulf; another year we had a magnificent orange moon that was too good to be true. This year, we were there during the New Moon phase, so no orbs in the night sky, but instead, on a couple of clear nights, I attempted something I had only flirted with before: capturing the feeling of those millions of stars overhead, and the mysterious moody shore at night.

Equipped with my 17-55 mm and tripod, I set up and experimented for about 30 mins before I settled on exposures that were a range of 15-20 seconds. Any longer, and the sky became overexposed and create extra noise, plus the stars begin to trail ever so slightly. Any less, and those beautiful twinklers became pinpricks, too tiny to discern.

One of my best results is posted today. I really love the way the waves lushly roll over in the long exposure, with just enough light from Panama City, some 20 miles away, to offer a glow on the horizon. While nothing can truly compare to standing on the shore at night, drinking in the sound of the waves, the salty sea breeze, and the overpowering vastness of the cosmos above, I know this shot for me helps to bring it home in my memory, once again. Hope you enjoy…