One last one of the Milky Way shot at the Needles Highway in South Dakota. This is one I pre-visualized as we spent the evening shooting the sky with the granite formations as a foreground. I envisioned that as the Milky Way was moving across the sky at one point it would split the two spires and hopefully line up with the small tree. I tried to get it so that the MW seems to be shooting out of the tree top like some sort of galactic magic wand. The yellow glow is from the city lights of the nearby town of Custer, SD, I believe.
Nikon D4 Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm Gitzo legs, Kirk BH-1 ball head F/2.8, 25 seconds, ISO 1600 Vehicle taillights used to paint the rocks Processed in Photoshop CC 2014
Thanks Larry. This one took a little blending to get it the way I wanted. I used the noise reduction in ACR aggressively on the sky and then went back and reduced it significantly for the rocks. Combined the two and this was the result. I did this because I was planning on printing it on 17x22 paper. I'm looking at the print right now and there is great detail and little to no noise. I think this will still come out nice at 20x30.
Thank you very much! As far as using the tail lights of your vehicle. Larry and I discovered this during the evening. I was taking an image and while the shutter was open Larry opened the tailgate not knowing I was hot at the time. When I saw the image it was a defining moment. All evening I was attempting shots and by light painting the rocks with a small flashlight. While it had worked the night before to light up some distant rocks at Sylvan Lake we were too close to the formations for this to work effectively. I was getting a lot of ghosting from the light being reflected back off the rock surface. When we looked at the results of how the tail lights provided a smoother and red colored surface we started parking the vehicle in different positions to see what would work. This was one of my last shots in this area and by then I knew it would make a big difference in the final result. We tried Larry hitting the brakes for a second or so but that gave us too strong of an effect. Then we discovered that by just popping the tail gate it seemed to be just the right amount of light.
Yes, you must get out there at night and try this. I know we have dabbled in it before, but with some practice you will definitely begin to develop a shooting workflow and becomes a little easier and the results improve dramatically. Just remember the 500 rule for exposure. Take the number 500 and divide that by your shooting focal length. This will give you the maximum shutter speed before you start to see star movement in the image. Then set your camera to the lowest f-stop available and start with an ISO of 800 or 1600. To get the right exposure you can try different ISO's and in combination with the shutter speed until you get a good exposure. You can use an auto white balance or you can use a preset. You will ultimately adjust this in post. Before the sunlight is gone try distance focusing your camera at different zoom settings and make note of where it registers on the lens focus tick marks. You will have a very difficult time trying to focus in the dark, obviously. Your focus point(s) should be somewhat shy of infinity.