Featured Photo: Photographing Stars In the Desert

A photo of the movement of the stars (well, okay, primarily the movement of the earth!), the result of 24 hours of photography in Joshua Tree, California, United States. Just because the day is over doesn’t mean photography needs to come to an end. And next month, I’ll give you a bunch of info on how to create a photo like this.

Star Trails, 28 April 2012, Joshua Tree National Park by Ken Lee

This photo: Star trails in what is a 40-minute exposure in total, combining eighty 30-second photos (“stacking”) to create this photo, showing the movement of the stars and earth.

The faint almost horizontal red line on the left side is an airplane. The faint white dots on the far right hand side is a falling star. I initially took them out, then decided I’d leave them in and give the photo a little patina. 😀

The foreground was “light painted” by the ambient light from a couple of passing vehicles. It’s a bit “softer” than the photo below, which I “light painted” with my flashlight. Long exposure star trail photos can look fantastic either with silhouettes or with “light painted” foregrounds. The “light painting” probably looks a little more unusual. The act of “light painting” is an absolute blast, and makes time go by very fast. Who knew that waving a flashlight around could be so much fun?

On June 1st, I’ll post about how this photo was created, both out in the field and the post-processing afterwards “stacking” photos.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, Tokina AT-X 116 Pro DX AF 11-16mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon, and other equipment below.  Each of the eighty photos was f/4, ISO 800, for 30 seconds each.


Featured Quote: Michael Kenna on the Act of Photography Connecting Us To the World

Joshua Tree Star Trails (Ken Lee, night photographer)

Joshua Tree Star Trails.  This is a photo that I (Ken) took in the middle of a warm summer night.  I brought out one of those zero-gravity loungers and looked up at the sky during the entire exposure.  Indeed, as Michael Kenna describes in his quote below, the act of photography does connect us to the world. NIkon D90, 18-200mm VR lens, MC-DC2 remote release cord, and my father’s 1970s Sears metal tripod.

I love this quote and thought I’d share with you.

“Getting photographs is not the most important thing. For me it’s the act of photographing. It’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what’s going on around you. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” – Michael Kenna in “Photographer’s Forum Interview” – Winter 2003 by Claire Sykes