a teatray in the sky

yellowstone one-a-days: day 5

Posted in 5D Mark II, National Parks, Photography, Technique and Development, Yellowstone National Park by firthefirst on September 20, 2010

took my first pass at night sky photography while in yellowstone and really botched it right off the bat.  couldn’t find my remote trigger before the trip and figured I’d be OK without it.  wrong.  there’s a lot of stuff you need for night sky photography (dark sky, tripod, camera, flashlight, etc.) and remembering all of those and forgetting your off-camera trigger is like showing up to a meeting with your computer, projector, presentation, leave-behinds, and forgetting to wear clothing.  you might get the job done, but it will be ugly.

putting the 5D Mark II on bulb mode and then holding down the shutter button for 190 seconds means you’re going to end up with some vibration, even if the whole thing is set on a tripod.  that being said, I’m not entirely sure where the blurring you see in the stars is coming from.  if you look at the treeline, it’s tack sharp.  does the night sky move that much in 3 minutes?

forgetting all the technical stuff, standing by the lake side in yellowstone at midnight is an invigorating experience.  I have never seen the milky way before with my bare eyes (not that I haven’t been anywhere wild before, but I just haven’t consciously noticed it).  it’s an amazing sight and one that I wish I could see every night, looking up into the starry depths of the universe.

I’ll have to keep working on my night sky technique and I’ll let you know if/when I improve

[exif: 5D Mark II,  Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L II,  ISO 800,  f/2.8,  shutter held in bulb mode for 190 sec.]

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8 Responses

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  1. lemonheart82 said, on September 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    can i know what lens u using during your travel?
    i will going to taiwan in november, was thinking whether i should get a 18-200mm lens for travel a not, any suggestion?

    • firthefirst said, on September 20, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      I was going to write a reply, but it turned into a really long reply, and at this point I’m just going to make it into a post. so be on the lookout for that later this week!

  2. lemonheart82 said, on September 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    sure, I’m looking forward to it~

  3. photographyfree4all said, on September 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve just tried a few times for some night shots. I didn’t even have a remote trigger, so I used my shutter delay. I set it for 2 seconds and it worked pretty good in lieu of a remote. Of course there were other problems as well, like forgetting to disengage my lens stability function which created a slight distortion since my camera was on a tripod. But, I continue to learn. Thanks for this post. I too will look for your follow up post.

  4. Don Komarechka said, on September 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Great shot – you’d be surprised how quickly the stars move through the night sky!

    Indeed what you are seeing in this photo is motion blur caused by the earth’s rotation. The stars all rotate around the north star, which I think is just out of the frame to the top right of this photo. Even a 30-second exposure will have some level of motion blur that can result in stars appearing closer in shape to ovals, not circles.

    There are a few ways around this – using your fastest lens and highest ISO to get a shorter shutter speed, or astronomy photographers use special image stacking programs and this allows them to take multiple shorter exposures and multiply the luminosity while reducing the noise and realigning the images. I haven’t used any of these programs before myself, but they look nifty (and complicated).

    Again, great shot!

    • firthefirst said, on September 21, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      thanks for answering that mystery for me. I didn’t realize the earth rotated so rapidly. guess I’ll try shooting some night sky shots with the 50 f/1.4 … if they turn out well I might have a semi-reasonable excuse for adding the 24 f/1.4 onto my personal wish list

  5. clicksey said, on September 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    This shot is gorgeous, I love the way you can see the blur from the stars, it’s magical!

  6. Harry said, on October 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Sorry to disagree with some of the comments, however next time try the following settings.
    ISO 1600, f stop 2.8, shutter to 25 seconds. (anything more than 25 second and the stars will be moving enough to be oblong. Also set your shutter to curtain open, this too will stop camera movement. Also turn off the long exposure noise reduction. Good idea not to touch the camera at any time.


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