The best Milky Way photography gear guide

What equipment do you need to photograph landscapes with the Milky Way? The equipment does not have to cost tons of cash. This handy gear guide will help!

This is more of a beginner’s guide. Therefore, I am not going to list star trackers. They are not necessary for creating beautiful Milky Way images or astro-landscapes. Also, this guide is written with single-exposure Milky Way photos in mind, although you certainly can apply most of the advice to tracked or stacked photos as well.


This is arguably the most important piece of equipment for taking photos of the Milky Way. After all, if you have a cheap lens on an expensive camera, it adversely affects the image going into your shiny expensive capture device.

To me, the most interesting Milky Way photographs are the ones that marry the earth and the sky. It’s the overall context that makes our mouths drop. You may be photographing the Milky Way, but it still is all about composition.

Therefore, an ultra wide-angle lens or wide-angle lens is probably the most useful (and hey, here’s an article about lens choices for night photography). You also want it to have a wide aperture to let in as much of that dim starlight as possible. The Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens or the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens are relatively inexpensive, ultra wide-angle and have a wide aperture.

I use an Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens or Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 fisheye (I love fisheye lenses!) for my Nikon D750 and a 15-30mm f/2.8 lens for my Pentax K-1 when photographing the Milky Way. I have not used the Rokinon 14mm but have seen plenty of gorgeous images that use one.


Almost any reasonably modern DSLR or mirrorless with manual controls is capable of doing a great job of photographing the Milky Way. You also don’t need the latest and greatest expensive cameras. An older camera such as the ones I mentioned above are more than capable.

DSLR or mirrorless cameras that are, say, 2014 or newer are capable of excellent high-ISO performance. I’ve seen all sorts of great photos from a variety of cameras, including crop-sensor or full frame. I purchase cameras used since they cost so much, and it hasn’t stopped me from creating high-quality photos. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the camera, although obviously if you have deep pockets and can purchase a nice, new beautiful camera, don’t let me stop you.


Obviously, you want your camera to stay still while you have the shutter open for 15, 20, or 30 seconds — common exposure times for Milky Way photography. I use two carbon fiber tripods, a Feisol CT-3342 and a larger Feisol CT-3372, which I’ve had since 2013. These have gone up in price a bit but are still a great buy.

We Nightaxians use a heavy setup (Pentax K-1 and 15-30mm f/2.8 lens) out in the field when doing night photography. Check out this YouTube podcast for a fun, informative discussion about all things tripods!

Tripods for Pentaxians — The Nightaxians Episode 10

While I personally prefer carbon fiber, I wouldn’t get too hung up on this unless you are going to do a lot of hiking. There’s nothing wrong with an aluminum tripod. The heavier weight can often work to your favor for creating stability.

If you want stability and feel like you are going to be using your tripod a fair amount, I would urge you not to buy a cheap flimsy tripod.

Milky Way, Mojave Desert, Southwestern US.

It really is an important piece of gear and can keep your camera safe and stable. After all, I’m not sure if it makes sense to have hundreds or even thousands of dollars invested in a camera and lens only to purchase it on top of a cheap flimsy tripod. But also, to give an example, since I purchased my tripods in 2013, I have owned numerous camera bodies. However, my tripods (and lenses) have remained the same. Hopefully, that gives you some perspective on how important lenses and tripods are compared to camera bodies.

If you cannot afford Feisol tripods, you could have a look at Manfrotto, Benro or Leofoto, who make inexpensive tripod models that seem like they would still be stable.

Regardless, make sure you use a tripod like a pro. This will help greatly with stability.

Great accessories to make your Milky Way photography experience better

Intervalometer or remote shutter release

A simple cheap remote shutter release fires the camera without you having to actually touch your shutter release button. This is great for reducing vibrations. By the way, speaking of vibrations, it’s generally regarded as good practice to turn off image stabilization. While it probably won’t do any harm, you don’t want the image stabilization motors whirring, trying to stabilize a camera that doesn’t need stabilization.

An intervalometer does more than a simple cheap remote shutter release. This allows you to fire multiple photos in succession and do time-lapses. This might be nice to get because you can either “stack” photos to reduce noise and bring out the stars a little more, or you can throw the photos you’ve taken in succession into GlueMotion or another app and create time-lapses of the Milky Way! Cool, huh?

And to learn how to use an intervalometer, make sure you check out this article. And check out this article for a really great, flexible intervalometer that can be used for different brands of cameras for under $20.


500px Photo ID: 119907715 – I arrived at the Grand Canyon hoping to take some night sky photos, star trails, who knows. But there were only clouds, no stars.. At first, I was disappointed. But with the clouds came the storms. Wow. This is looking west from Lipan Point, following the Colorado River below. The sky shows two storms (there’s also one in the distance, just slightly to the left of the two lightning bolts), but there was actually at least two more to the south which I also photographed around the same time. The sky was almost entirely filled with clouds, but you can see little tiny patches of the cloudless sky on the upper left side. Now, being from California, I’m not used to seeing lightning storms. And I’m sure not used to seeing four simultaneously!!!! The weather changes rather quickly in Arizona, and that takes some getting used to as well, especially when attempting to plan night sky photography. I used the Weather Channel app and the Dark Skies app to determine whether the skies were clear or not, and eventually just ignored them because of how quickly the weather changed. It’s pretty much as I describe above. After hanging out at Desert View and seeing nothing but giant masses of clouds, I was a little bummed out, and began driving west, back toward the hotel. I wasn’t going to pack it in for the night, but where I was staying had less clouds typically, so I was going to try and photograph something there. I pulled in to Lipan Point, not far from Desert View, to check out the view, just to scope it out for returning the next day, and as I was pulling up, I saw some flashes of lightning from the south, probably around Williams or Flagstaff. I got out of the car to check it out and check out the view, and then it dawned on me that I might be able to take photos of this, so I trotted out the camera equipment. I photographed looking south for a while, and then some other storms started up west of where we were looking at. That’s what I had been h

PhotoPills is great for planning where the Milky Way is going to appear, finding the Milky Way, or even determining your camera settings (hint: a starting point of 15-20 seconds at f/2.8 at ISO 3200 or 4000 is not bad if using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens or other lenses with a similar focal length and aperture). 

I also wrote an article, “How to find the Milky Way,” that will give you more tips and apps.

What are other useful apps? Apps for light pollution, finding great landscapes, Google Maps for navigating and pinning locations, weather apps such as Clear Outside, and so forth can make your experience easier.


Get a good headlamp that produces red light. The red light is important so you don’t blow your eyes out. A great alternative to a headlamp, something that can clip onto your hat or just about anything else, is a Coast HX4 clip-on LED light. And yes, it has a red light and is inexpensive.


You can use the same setup and settings to capture celestial phenomena. Comet NEOWISE, Central California US.

Post-processing a Milky Way image is largely about taste. It’s easy to try and extract as much detail as possible, only to make your Milky Way or sky look harsh or even garish. Using some sort of software, though, is essential for bringing out the beauty of the Milky Way, just as you would process film. Dodging, burning, sharpening, contrast and brightening are your friends. Just don’t overdo it.

There are many kinds of post-processing software that you could use and do a great job. In the past, I have used Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, Adobe, Photoshop CC, Skylum Luminar, and DxO Nik Collection to gently coax out the Milky Way more. For adjusting the color slightly, I’ve gotten great results from Radiant Photo as well.


Want more tips? Check out Five tips all night photographers should know

And while being repetitive, I do want to mention again that composition still reigns supreme. Whether photographing the Milky Way, Comet NEOWISE or other celestial phenomena, incorporating it with a strong foreground subject often works best. All the guidelines for image composition still are in play: leading lines, Rule of Thirds, or otherwise pleasing compositions.

Also, since this is a beginner’s guide that links to a lot of other useful information about Milky Way photography, consider bookmarking this so you can return often.

And as always, please leave questions or comments below.


Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!


Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)

Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020


How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022


Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols



How did I choose my night photography ball head?

I do long exposure photography almost exclusively, so I look for specific qualities in ball heads. If I am adjusting the ball head in the dark for a series of photos for stacking for Milky Way photos or two-hour long star trails, I want something easy to use and rock solid. We’ll go through my decision-making process together.
I used an Acratech GP-s to take 17 photos in succession to “stack” them in an effort to reduce noise a little.

Deciding on a tripod head

There are numerous tripod heads. And much of this is a matter of preference and practicality.
A pan and tilt head separates horizontal, vertical and panning motions into three separate axes, often doing so precisely, and are popular for video. They often tend to be heavier. Some have handles. The few times I’ve used one with a handle for night photography, I’ve rammed my teeth on the handle. Maybe not.
A gimbal head moves fluidly and is great for tracking, making it popular for wildlife or sports photography. However, it seemed a little large and chunky and overdone for night photography.
I decided to look for a ball head. A ball head is relatively light and compact and would allow me to easily compose in either landscape or portrait modes, aiming the camera easily at various angles. Like tripods, I really wanted to purchase a quality ball head once and use it for many years to come. I purchased my ball heads over six years ago and am still happily using them, so I apparently didn’t choose too poorly!
I used an Acratech GP-s ball head for this star trails photo, showing the perceived celestial movements over 12 minutes of time.

Ball head features that are useful for night photographers


Above all, I wanted a ball head to be rock solid and not sag, vibrate or move and could accommodate a large amount of weight. After all, many of us night photographers use a heavy DSLR and ultra wide angle lens combination.

Ease of operation

I did not want to use a headlamp every time I positioned the ball head in the dark, so this was also a must. I wanted easy-to-turn knobs that were logically placed.

Ball tension

I also wanted to have a separate tension knob where I could precisely dial in the amount of tension that I wanted. This is particularly helpful when adjusting the main ball head , as it provides enough tension so that it isn’t too tight requiring extra force when positioning, but not too loose so that you risk the camera flopping or have difficulty precisely positioning the camera.

Arca-Swiss quick release plate

My two cameras already had a special kind of quick release plate called an L-bracket attached to them, all of which were Arca-Swiss compatible. I looked for a compatible mounting base that would easily let me open the clamp, slide the camera in, and secure it easily. I like using L-brackets because I can quickly adjust the camera to portrait or landscape mode. Sure, I could probably achieve portrait mode with a ball head by turning it on its side, but I felt this might introduce some instability, as I photograph frequently in high-wind areas in the desert. And the wind in the desert sometimes seems to gust out of nowhere!

Pan adjustment for panoramas

The pan adjustment is used to rotate the camera from left to right without adjusting the tilt at all. I was hoping to find a ball head that allowed me to easily pan in reasonably precise, smooth adjustments. I wanted to have this option. However, more than six years later, I still have not done a panorama. Someday, right?

What did I choose?

Because I had two cameras and was purchasing two tripods, I also purchased two ball heads.

Acratech GP-s ball head

My scuffed up six year old Acratech GP-s ball head, perched atop a Feisol CT-3342 carbon fiber tripod. It may be light, but it holds up to 25 pounds without breaking a sweat…not that I’ve ever seen a ball head sweat. No. That’d be weird.

I chose this because it was highly regarded, lightweight at less than a pound while still holding 25 pounds and relatively small, this seemed like a winner. As a bonus, the GP-s could convert into a panoramic tripod head easily. You may position it upside-down to function as a leveling base for panoramic photography, keeping everything parallel to the horizon. I also liked its smaller size, which could easily accommodate travel tripods without banging its pan knob against the tripod, and even allowing the tripod legs to fold over it. Sold!

Really Right Stuff BH-55

My scuffed up Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, ready to use with my Feisol CT-3372 tripod. The tripod has a load capacity of my tripod is 65 pounds while the BH-55 is 50 pounds, so short of using this for a car jack, this handles just about any situation, even in high wind. You can see the pan turntable underneath with 360 degrees of markers.
Although it might sound strange, the BH-55 is a beautiful looking ball head that inspires confidence. I chose this for extra stability in high wind conditions, as it supports up to 50 pounds, easily accommodating large cameras with heavy ultra wide lens. This does, however, weigh 1.9 pounds, almost twice as much as the Acratech. That said, I do love the large locking knob. I have large hands, so this really feels comfortable, although I should mention that the Acratech ball head has a scalloped lamping knob. Although smaller, its extremely easy to grip, so having a large locking knob doesn’t matter so much.

Choosing by time traveling

If I could go back in time and choose again, I would likely choose to purchase two Acratech GP-s ball heads. I love the BH-55, don’t get me wrong. But the GP-s ball head is so stable and easy to use that I don’t feel I need the extra weight and beefiness of the other. But really, I have no regrets! I love them both.

An interesting ball head for today

Today, if I were looking for a ball head, I would have a close look at the Platyball Elite from Platypod. Why? This intriguing ball head has an “upside down” ball head design, placing the panning turntable on the top instead of the bottom, making it far easier for us to pan cameras in a straight line even if the tripod legs themselves are not perfectly level.
But there’s more. You may notice that I never mentioned bubble levels as one of the features I was looking for in a ball head. That’s because they’re almost impossible to see, not only because I shoot in the dark but also because they are frequently poorly positioned. The Platyball Elite uses a backlit electronic leveling system not terribly unlike what you might see in a digital camera. This uses an A23 alkaline battery for power and works in any orientation, also offering three brightness levels. Although I could do without one more item that requires a battery, this is such a useful feature that I might make an exception!



Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure photos.  My latest book, “Abandoned Southern California: The Slowing of Time” is available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review.

Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)

Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols



How did I choose my night photography tripod?

I do long exposure photography almost exclusively, so I look for specific qualities in tripods. If I photograph  a series of photos for stacking for Milky Way photos or two-hour long star trails, I really need a tripod to do its job. So what qualities do I look for in a tripod?

Juggling cost, weight and stability

I agonized over my choice of tripod more than any other photography-related gear I’ve purchased, wrestling with these three qualities: cost, weight, and stability.
Want a cheap tripod that doesn’t weigh too much? Of course you do! But is it going to be stable?
Want a cheap tripod that is super sturdy and takes high exposures in high winds? Sure. But it might be really heavy.
Okay, How about something that is really sturdy and lightweight? That sounds great. But now it’s very expensive.
I’ll go over what features I considered. I’ve used my tripods for over six years. During this time, I’ve owned four DSLRs. However, I still own the same tripods and am happy with them, so I may have done something right.
Above: A rock solid tripod helps when taking 20 photos in succession so I could “stack” them to reduce noise. Eastern Sierras, California.

Carbon Fiber

I hike in to locations hauling a lot of gear, often having two cameras in my backpack as well as heavy ultra wide angle lenses and accessories. Because of this, I favor lightweight tripods, so all mine are carbon fiber. If I can even shave a pound off when I am hiking in for several miles, that’s money well spent. Also, they don’t get nearly as cold as their aluminum counterparts, quite a bonus in the winter months.

Quick and easy to set up

This is a matter of preference. In theory, I love flip locks. I know when they are locked down. However, I think maybe I am a little clumsy and have a tendency to pinch my fingers with these sometimes while using this at night. I’ve also had them catch on my clothing before when I am carrying or maneuvering the tripod.
Consequently, I’ve chosen twist locks. These deploy quickly and nicely. However, there are always sacrifices. It increases the chances that you forget to twist them all the way, so you do have to take extra care in making sure they are locked down. Some can also can attract sand and begin grinding, so you may need to occasionally take apart your tripod and give it a thorough cleaning once in a while.

Rock Solid Stability

This might be the most important of all for me. I have photographed in extremely gusty winds all over the Mojave Desert, including the insanely windy Owens Valley in California. And despite the wind, I have been able to take stack 20 consecutive 15-second or 20-second exposures for Milky Ways or do hour long star trails. Consequently, in the wrestling match of cost, weight, and stability, I’ve arguably compromised the most on weight. That said, my tripods still really are not that heavy.
Above: Mobius Arch in the winter. Although this looks serene, I was perched on another rock with strong gusty winds with my tripod clinging to steeply sloping rocks. Despite these hardships, my Feisol CT-3372 held fast, never shaking during the long exposure.


This should probably almost go without saying, but minimizing flimsy plastic parts such as locks and clamps really helps. My tripods get thrown into cars, banged around on airplanes, and even worse, gets sand ground in it in the desert and the beach.

Other features

Tripods also come with columns and hooks. I don’t use them. In my opinion, telescoping center columns introduce instability and invites additional vibrations, particularly when they are raised. They have their uses, but I really need rock solid stability. Also, I haven’t found much use for center hooks either. I’ve found that the packs sway when there is wind, which makes me rather concerned.

What I use

Six years ago, I made an attempt to purchase tripods that I would use for years. And I attempted to do so without spending tons of money, particularly since I frequently photograph with two cameras simultaneously and would need to purchase two tripods. So what did I choose?
Feisol CT-3342: This is the smaller of my two tripods. This folds up to 23.2 inches, weighs 2.5 pounds, yet has a load capacity of a whopping 55 pounds. This holds any of my camera setups, including a rather hefty Pentax K-1 DSLR with a 15-30mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens mounted on it. That’s a heavy setup. I strongly prefer to have the stated load capacity be considerably higher than what I actually put on the tripod. A while back, I attempted to get a really small travel tripod that folded up to 20 inches. It looked and felt flimsy. I guess I’m too spoiled with the stability I have. I sent it back. Sure, it might be a little large for a travel tripod, but then again, I’ve traveled to Iceland, India, and all over the Southwestern United States with it. I bought mine for $375, but I think they may sell for around $400 now.
Above: My six year old Feisol CT-3342 with a Acratech GP-s ballhead. The tripod legs have red and white reflective tape and glow-in-the-dark tape in the event that I cannot find my setup in the dark, something that thankfully hasn’t happened.
Feisol CT-3372: This is a larger tripod than most normal people use. Because I photograph in places that can get sudden strong gusts of wind and I use very heavy cameras, I have this as well. It folds down to 24.8 inches, is 3.9 pounds, and has a load capacity of 66 pounds, although I feel like it could hold even more than that. I’ve used this for gale force winds for photographing the Mobius Arch in the very windy Owens Valley in California.  This is usually about $575, which is a lot of money, but for this quality, it feels like a bargain.

Above: My six year old Feisol CT-3372 with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead. 
Both of these hit the sweet spot for cost, offering high quality without being crazy expensive. But who knows, you may find that something else suits you. There are so many new designs since I purchased this, including Peak Design and such, that might offer up something that satisfies cost, weight, and stability.



Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure photos.  My latest book, “Abandoned Southern California: The Slowing of Time” is available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review.

Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)

Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols



Tip of the Month: 7 Tips For Beautiful Waterfall Photos!

Cathedral Falls, West Virginia
Cathedral Falls, West Virginia, Nikon D90, 18-200mm lens, 18mm, f/22, 1.6 seconds.  West Virginia has at least 3500 waterfalls.

Is there anyone who doesn’t love waterfalls?  Okay, maybe besides that one cranky great-uncle?  By request, I’m going to cover the best tips for getting gorgeous waterfall photos!

1.  Slow Shutter Speed. This is up to you and your tastes.  If you want to “freeze-frame” the spray, the specific waves, the droplets of water, you want a really fast shutter speed.  Once in a while, I like this to capture the power or drama of the falls.

Or do you prefer a soft, silky, ethereal feel of the water?  This is usually my preference.  If so, you want a slow shutter speed.  I shoot waterfalls, depending on the light, anywhere from 1/2 second to 1.6 seconds, using a low ISO.  But how can you shoot this slowly?

Upper Yosemite Falls
The Mighty Upper Yosemite Falls.  Although I generally prefer to shoot waterfalls using a slow shutter speed, there are sometimes in which I prefer a fast shutter speed to capture the individual waves and spray of the water, which can sometimes add more drama.

2.  Use a tripod.  You knew that, didn’t you?  This’ll keep everything sharp – except for everything that’s moving, of course. I like to use a Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord to further minimize camera shake, which can be introduced if you are touching the shutter button on your camera.

If you are hiking, use either a lightweight carbon fiber tripod or, like I did for the Cathedral Falls photo, a Joby Gorillapod.  It lightens the load and allows you to take photos of beautiful waterfalls, even if they are miles along the trail.

3.  Filters.  If the light is bright, you may not be able to slow down the shutter speed to 1/2 second or more. So, what to do?  You can screw on a neutral density filter or a polarizing filter to let in less light.  Cool, huh? For this photo, I used a polarizing filter because I left the neutral density filters at home.  Using a combination of the polarizing filter and a really small aperture allowed me to get a shutter speed as slow as 1/6 seconds.

4.  Figure Out The Best Time To Shoot!  When’s the best season?  When does the foliage look the best?  When does the water flow?  Might it look really cool in winter? Often, spring or fall is the best time for water flow, while the winter or summer may hardly have anything at all.

The time of day matters too.  The harsh light of day may not be the most flattering.  but certain times of the day may not be so great either if there’s strong contrast from trees or foliage overhead, with “hot spots” from the sun mixed with shade form the leaves and branches or trees. Most of the time, early morning or late afternoon is best.  Cloudy, foggy, or misty days can also provide good light for photographing waterfalls. But talking to people, checking out the falls, and otherwise doing research is best, particularly if you’re visiting.  Figure out when the light looks the best, or the most dramatic. Popular places like Yosemite often have a lot of information online or in photography books.

5.  Take Photos at Different Exposures and Shutter Speeds.  You never know what you might really like when you get home.  Experiment.  I mess with the shutter speeds, taking them from very fast shutter speeds to as long as 5 seconds or more, although for slow shutter speeds, I usually end up going for somewhere around 1/2 second to 1.6 seconds.  But not always.

6.  Small Apertures.  Consider using small aperture settings when shooting waterfalls.  Why?  As I mentioned, it lights in less light, handy if you are trying to achieve that silky smooth look of the water.  But more than that, what it allows you to do is keep more of the waterfall and surrounding landscape in focus.  This allows you to have a greater depth of field and keep the foreground elements as well as the leaves and trees around the waterfall, as well as the top of the waterfall, in focus.  My very small aperture of f/22 is a little smaller than most people do, but I did that because it was relatively bright and I wanted to get the shutter speed slower.  But experimenting with apertures between f6.3-f/13 in most cases will do the trick.

7.  Bring Microfiber Cloths and Plastic Bags.  Indispensable when you’re shooting around spraying water. You can use a plastic bag to cover the camera until you are ready to shoot. Using your lens hood can sometimes keep some of the water droplets (or sun) off the lens as well.

When I was shooting Cathedral Falls, most of the water on my lens came from a little boy who suddenly chose to throw rocks in the water pools right in front of my camera while his mother looked on and did nothing.  Because I’m helpful, I gave her some tips on parenting.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens, Nikon SB-600 Speedlight, Sto-Fen Flash Diffuser.

Featured Photo: Midnight in Pioneertown – Painting With Light

Midnight in Pioneertown

Long Exposure Light Painting
This is a photo I just took very recently out in the high California desert near Joshua Tree in Pioneertown.  I kept the shutter open for 7 minutes, and then “light painted” the water tower and two Joshua Trees by shining an LED flashlight and repeatedly firing my speedlight flash while trying to stay warm during the close-to-freezing midnight photo shoot.

You can see the lights of several cars whizzing past in the distance. The white streaks in the sky are stars. They appear as streaks due to the movement of the earth since the shutter was open for 7 minutes. Fun!!

There’s no Photoshop editing aside from some light sharpening and contrast.  The magic of the image is in the time-consuming but fun shooting process itself.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens

Title: Midnight in Pioneertown
Camera: Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR lens at 18mm, f/16, 421.8 seconds (about 7 minutes)
Location: Pioneertown, California, USA