What are Night Photography Workshops?

Night Photo cover

 

One of the most commonly asked question I get is, “What are your Night Photography Workshops all about?” The simple answer is, learning night photography. That being said, our workshops are much more than that.  They are fun, entertaining, educational and some have called them, “life changing.”

Myself, with Mike Berenson help to take your night photography to a much higher level. We welcome all skill levels into our workshops. One of the benefits of having 2 instructors is that you get more attention, you are able to ask more questions and get more helpful answers and you will leave the workshop without any unanswered questions. This is our goal. We want you to feel as though you have asked and been answered all the questions you had. We don’t hold anything back. We tell you all we know at the time.  I say, “at the time” because in the 4 years we have been doing the workshops so much has changed in the world of Night Photography. We do our best to keep up to date with the latest equipment, software and processing techniques so that we can give you the most current info to help you create the best possible images.

IMG_4160

Mike and I currently teach our Night Photography Workshops in Moab, Utah – Arches and Canyonlands National Park,  Jackson, Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park and Idaho Springs, Colorado – Mount Evans – the highest paved road in the America at over 14K feet. We have good working relationships with Ranch Inn in Jackson and Moab Valley Inn in Moab to provide you with a comfortable working space during your classroom time.  Classroom time?  Yes, we spend about 3 hours each day in “class” going over all kinds of aspects of Night Photography so that you have more time in the field each night to actually shoot and get great shots..   Trust me when I say we have more content for the classroom than we can use.. We have been making small modifications so that you get only the best and most important info available.

We meet on day 1 and go over an introduction about who we are, what the workshop will cover and some images that we hope will inspire you to get creative and make you want to learn. After all, that is why you are there.

group

CLASSROOM TRAINING

WHAT DOES THE CLASSROOM TRAINING CONTENT LOOK LIKE?

Students receive all training content in electronic format (in addition to the live training) giving them easy access all the clickable links and resources.

Topics We Like To Cover In Classroom Training

  • Planning
    • Key Concepts & Tools
    • Planning Resources On The Web
    • Getout There And Scout
    • Safe Night Photography
  • Shooting
    • Procedures & Settings
    • Noise & Noise Reduction
    • Multiple Exposures
    • Light Painting
    • Super Long-Exposures
  • Post-Processing
    • RAW Processing in Lightroom
    • Exposure Adjustments
    • Color Balance & Selective Color
    • Blending in Photoshop
    • Focus Stacking Blending
    • Star Spikes & Comet Like Star Trail Processing
    • Multiple Exposures for Noise Reduction
    • More On Noise Reduction
    • Panoramic Stitching
    • Sharpening For The Web

Software Applications We Use In The Post-Processing Portion

  • Primary
    • Adobe Lightroom
    • Adobe Photoshop
  • Secondary
    • Nik Color Efex Pro & Dfine
    • Star Spikes Pro

Evans Workshop Group

 

Depending on the time of year (April, May June) we tend to take advantage of Milky Way shooting and sunrise. August and September we generally take advantage of sunset and Milky Way.  We have found this makes it a bit easier on our students and allows them to get more out of the workshop and see the area we are working in before it gets dark. With 2 instructors and taking advantage of sunrise or sunset we feel this really adds quite a bit of value to the workshops.

We have finished up day 1 of classroom training. Out into the field we go. What do we do now?  We will discuss some group shooting guidelines so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience. Once we have talked about that we will discuss the most important aspect of night photography. No matter how epic the skies are, no matter how relaxed you feel to be under a billion stars, no matter how far you hiked or drove there is one thing that will ruin your night of photography quicker than anything else… Any guesses is to what that is?   Not knowing how to focus in the dark. I could write 20 pages on this alone but the simple fact is, you don’t want soft blurry images… You don’t sacrifice sleep, time and effort (hiking) to get home with properly exposed images only to find they are blurry.  This is the first thing we will teach you on night 1 of the workshop. No matter if you are working on points of light or long exposure star trails, you want your images to be sharp so that when you print them (yes, you should be printing your work) they will look as good as they can. Why is it the first thing we will teach you?  We don’t want you to waste an entire night of shooting great nights scenes only to be disappointed when you come to class on day 2 to find that all your images were blurry… Having your images in focus and sharp is, in my opinion, the most important part of night photography in relation to image quality.

Mike and Lillian

We work with you, both in the classroom and in the field, to make sure you get any questions answered you want. If you don’t know how to find something in the menu of your camera then either Mike or I will know how to find it. Combined we have almost 60 years of photography experience with all kinds of cameras and lenses. Mike and I have slightly different processing styles which seem to work very well during the post processing portion of the classroom training. Because we have different shooting and processing styles, our combined knowledge really compliments each other to give the most benefit to our students.

12670463_811780385616179_3999170055488374335_n

We love answering your questions and making sure you are learning. We will not only tell you “how” but we will also tell you “why” we do things the way we do. This gives you a better understanding and a better knowledge base for your photography. There is a lot of science behind getting great images from Night Photography and we want to make sure you know as much as possible.

With 3 hours of classroom training each day and 6+ hours of shooting each night the workshops can feel a bit intense. We ask that you go at your own pace. By this we mean that if you don’t feel like you can stay out as late with the group then don’t feel bad if you need to get some rest..either by sleeping in a car if you rode with someone or going back to the hotel. We want you to feel comfortable and your safety is our #1 priority.

Night sky description

Another fun thing we like to do is help you identify what it is you are looking at in the night sky. Mike will give you a “tour of the night sky” with his green laser pointer which usually draws some “Wow”, “Holy Cow” and “Where did you get that thing” because it does an amazing job of pointing right where he wants you to look. Most people know the Milky Way but not the surrounding celestial objects… We are here to help. This is also fun so that when you do get home and are showing your images to your friends or sharing them online you accurately describe what the objects are in your image.

12079985_752781631516055_4877135080666425931_o

During our 5 night events in Moab, Utah we have permission to take our group into Moab Giants Dinosaur park and use their model dinosaurs as props/foregrounds in front of the night sky. It’s a fun experience for everyone.

Stars over Teton RanchIridium Flare over Grand TetonJackson Lake Northern Lights Pano

We love teaching in various locations because each area uses a different type of lighting. Workshops in Grand Teton National Park us natural lighting either from the stars or the moon to help illuminate the scenes. Generally speaking, the mountains are too far away to light paint. We time our workshops with the proper moon phases so that we can get the best possible light on our scenes. All 3 of the above images uses only natural light from either the moon or stars to light the scene. The top and middle image are all moonlight. In the middle image you will see an Iridium Flare that we set up to capture with our group. The bottom image is a multi shot pano which captures the Milky Way over Mount Moran from Jackson Lake as well as the northern lights glowing on the horizon. We have a very high percentage of return students who will take a workshop in the Tetons or Arches one year and then take the other one the next year. Different locations, different learning experiences.

Jackson Lake StarsNight On the Farm

Some people really love the long exposures. We teach various techniques with different focal lengths as well and where to position the camera for the desired result. In the top image a 50mm lens was used to create the longer trails of light looking West. The image on the bottom was created using a 14mm lens and doing multiple shorter exposures to the North that we later combined in PS to create the comet like stars. The bottom image was also planned so that we could capture the ISS as it flew by, low on the horizon.

Milky Way Dreams at Delicate Arch (1)Earth Day Visitors (1)

Our workshops in Arches National Park really take advantage of light painting and using LLL – Low Level Lighting – to illuminate the arches and rocks. Workshop groups are no longer allowed to use any handheld illumination devices to light paint. We have found that our LLL works better anyway as it keeps the light very even across the scene..

Delicate Air Glow

Delicate Arch – The highlight of our Arches workshop.  This scene uses just 1 LED light panel that is placed to properly illuminate the arch. This allows for constant even lighting for everyone to use.

Heavens above Turret (1)

September 2016 – our last Arches workshop of the year. The above image was created with years of planning. It’s not an image 1 person could realistically set up and capture. This image took 3 LED lights, 2 instructors with walkie talkies, clear skies, right time of year and some patience to properly align everything. Mike had one group over at Turret Arch and I had another group shooting this scene. Mike and I communicated back forth while the students took test shots to make sure the lighting was in the right spot. Once the light was in the right place my group of students took their shots and then switched over to Mike’s group and his group came over to shoot this scene. It really was a magical night for everyone. We had 2 students who traveled all the way from Austria who also had this vision in mind so it worked out perfectly.

Comet Star Trails at Double Arch 6704

Mike Wetzel – 2 time workshop student – uses LLL and comet like star trail processing to create the magical image of Double Arch in Arches National Park.

18766597_10213739125611221_3093166321213853317_o

Also a 2 time workshop student, Jann Ledbetter shoots Delicate Arch from the viewpoint as you end the hike. Jann writes – “Another Milky Way shot…this one over Delicate Arch (while the Aurora was dancing behind us!!). Definitely worth the somewhat scary climb to get up there!
This night was magical in a way that will NEVER be forgotten!!
Thanks Darren and Mike for making it all happen!”

FullSizeRenderArches Group May 25 2017Teton Group 2016 Sept

Being part of a group going out at night always feels safer to me. Even if it’s just me and one other person, there is a level of safety that helps to ease the tension of possible dangers and let’s my mind work on photography. We have had this told to us many times by our students as well.  We spend 3-5 days together and friendships are created which makes it a much more enjoyable experience, specially in today’s world of sharing via social media… We like group pictures, we like people having fun and learning.. So what happens after the workshop is over?  We will send you a post workshop evaluation that we hope you will answer with complete honesty. This helps us make the workshops better and a lot of great ideas have come from the feedback our students have given us.

What else?  You probably have at least 1 full media card if not 2 with roughly 1000 images just sitting there waiting to be processed. One thing that will ease your mind is knowing that Mike and I are always willing to help you after the workshop is over. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send either one of us an email and we will do our best to get you moving in the right direction.

For me the final product is the print.. Seeing that image at least 18″ wide on beautiful photo paper, metal or acrylic is really the end of the photographic process. Some of our students have taken it much further..

We teach you how to focus, scout locations, properly expose and compose, how to find a great foreground to go with your sky, how to minimize noise in your images and when you put that all together…..

Hal Mitzenmacher writes – Darren White, Mike Berenson – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Without the techniques you have taught me, I could never have dreamed of printing night images at 24″ x 83″ without a trace of noise and sharp as a tack (forgive my cell phone pic, I was so excited at the results I was seeing, my hand was shaking). I thought it would be appropriate to print this out on some of Legion Paper’s Moab Slickrock Pearl Metallic. It makes the image pop

18192333_1048426255258263_3581721912745998224_o

Thank you Hal and all of the students who have taken our workshops… We truly have a genuine interest in taking your learning to the next level.

IMG_4162

 What are people saying about our workshops –

Mike and Darren make a fantastic team. They bring a very wide range of skills and techniques to the workshop. They both willingly share their skills with all and strive to better each student’s knowledge of the craft.
– Rob from Colorado

Excellent workshop, well organized, professional.  I will definitely do another workshop with you guys.  I’ve done a lot of workshops, this is one of the ‘best’ for quality & value.
– Greg from California

The workshop was Muy Bueno!  This was not the first workshop that I take and let me tell you it has been the one I enjoy the most.  You both make me feel like we were friends for a long time.
– Guillermo from Mexico

I thought the workshop was excellent, a lot of great information especially about how to go about planning when and where to go out to shoot the milky way.  The in-field instruction was great and I was able to get my questions asked and answered.
– Angie from Missouri

I had a total blast on this workshop and learned a lot!  I’m so excited to try what I learned out on my own.  I’m also excited to do another workshop in the future!
– Elizabeth from Colorado

Mike and Darren – Thank you for being so patient with me as I adjusted to new equipment and not talking down to me. It was a little intimidating but I loved the workshop. You made me feel very comfortable with questions etc.  I love how down to earth you both are. I definitely walked away wanting more and hope to join you in Arches in the future after my 17 year old graduates this upcoming year. I do wish we could have covered more in class but definitely felt that outside the class I learned quite a bit from both of you. Next time will ensure that I am more comfortable with my newer equipment.  Thanks again for the inspiration.  I have already recommended you on Facebook.
– Raemi from Colorado

 

You can read many more testimonials as well as view our upcoming events here Night Photography Workshop

 

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art – Not Just For Portraits

sigma_321954_85mm_f_1_4_dg_hsm_1282161

A couple weeks ago as I was getting ready to walk out the door and head to Moab, Utah for our 2nd sold out Night Photography Workshop of the year I heard a knock on my door and to my surprise he was delivering my new Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art lens.

I was happy to say the least. I opened my camera bag, made room for the beast and off to Moab, Utah I went. As soon as I finished with the workshop in Moab I headed north on a mini vacation with my daughter as we road tripped through Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. I used the lens frequently when I felt it was the right focal length. I am not a portrait photographer by any means so I had other uses for this lens. Lucky for me I was able to make all of my ideas work because I took my time and did not rush myself in the field.

Without further ado I would like to share with you some real world images that were taken with the 85mm lens at various settings and using various techniques which I will describe when needed… Each of these images are for the most part unedited. I did resize them a bit smaller to fit the blog better.

Dillion Reservoir near Breckenridge, Colorado – This was the first image I took with the lens. En Route to Moab this made a good first stop to stretch the legs. The sun was setting and I had time to get my tripod set up and wait for the water to calm a little bit. All the images in this blog were taken using a Nikon D810 and Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens. The settings for this image are as follows: ISO 64, 1.6 seconds, F9

Dillion Reservoir

I had arrived in Moab, Utah and was checking out some new to me areas. I liked the early morning light hitting the canyon walls and figured this would be a good time to test out the shallow DOF… I was about 15 ft away when I shot this image and you can see that even at 1.8 it did a good job of isolating the front of my Jeep. Keeping it in tack sharp focus while allowing the rest of the scene to go soft.

_DSC1840

I was actually shooting the landscape behind the rock when I saw this little lizard crawl out and onto the rock to check out my new lens…I figured why not snap a picture of him.

_DSC1969

Shooting the layers of land from Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah. When shooting at a distance where nothing is directly in front of you, 6.3 f stop works well and keeps everything in check. The furthest hills may be a tad soft and in my opinion that is just fine..All the layers up front are good and sharp.

_DSC2177

During our workshops we like to include either sunsets or sunrises into our in field training to maximize shooting time for our students. This image was taken from the Lasal Mountain Overlook in Arches National Park as a small storm was blowing past us during sunset.

_DSC2243 2

Great DOF and razor sharp at 2.8.. I was about 4 feet away when I took this image. One of our students was making some adjustments on his camera.

_DSC2580 2

While the 85mm doesn’t have OS, IS or VR, I still find it very easy to shoot handheld in daylight hours.  Maybe because I have always shot big SLR cameras. This is an image just south of Devils Tower in Wyoming and when I crossed the bridge and looked over, I knew I had to stop and snap a few pics.

_DSC2978

One of the biggest reasons I wanted an 85mm lens is to create massive size panos. This image is made up of 7 vertical images to create a 179mb file which is 5x larger than each of the single images that come from my D810. If needed this image could be printed almost 20ft wide and 6t tall. Also when doing this it allows  you to crop if you need to or see another image within the image you want to use.

_DSC29841-Pano

Another reason for doing panos is to create a much higher res file… Below is a full 100% crop and you can see how sharp this is even at 100%.

_DSC2984-Pano

Night Photography is where I really plan on using this lens the most. By using the 85mm focal length and this lens in particular with its sharpness I can now create extremely high res, highly detailed images of the Milky Way. Using advanced Noise Reduction techniques and reinforcing the points of light not only creates a much cleaner image but also brings out some colors you would not normally see.

Made from 10 images by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.4.0.

And last but surely not least…The most time consuming and most effort put into an image. 48 images total (8×6) to create an even larger file with a subject. 6 back to back images in 8 different camera positions. Each group of 6 first stacked to create one noiseless file. Each of the 8 noiseless files then stitched to create the entire scene. Shot at 6400 ISO as orig RAW imags. This file now has the noise of a 1600 ISO file when printed at full size..which is huge… When doing smaller prints the noise level will be around that of a 400 ISO file simply because of the massive file size. Think 16×20 contact print for those of you who are familiar with film.  Shots like this are time consuming both in the field and back in the digital darkroom. I don’t recommend doing something like this when shooting in a large group or you time in the digital darkroom could be increased exponentially due to any kind of light that would get into one or more of your shots during your sequence of exposures. < That will be for another blog all on it’s own.. For now let’s just take a deep breath and try to fully realize the crazy amount of detail you can get in your images with the Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art lens.

Made from 6 images by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.4.0.

While I did not use it for any portraits or any people images, I am told it’s an award winning lens for that too…and I believe it. For me personally, it will be used to create massive panos, highly detailed images of the night sky and crazy shallow DOF images when needed… Also when possible I will use it just to create a wider angle of view..

I can stitch 2 85mm images together to create a 42mm wide shot, 3 images can create a 28mm wide image and 5 images can create an image that is as wide as a 17mm image yet all of these will have much larger file sizes and be able to print cleaner and larger than any single image.

I do plan on sharing more images from this lens as time goes on and I use it more. I think things are going to get pretty exciting.

Please feel free to leave a comment or message. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have!

Shooting With Film Again

IMG_1894

1991 – High School

Good times for sure. Lots of friends, no internet so we had to talk to each other to communicate. My sophomore year I joined the yearbook and newspaper teams as a photographer. I spent a good portion of my days in the darkroom filling orders for the copy teams, developing film and making prints. I loved it. I got to work on my own or with 1 other person and didn’t have anyone telling me what to do.. As I look back on it now, I really consider it my first job. I was in charge of the darkroom by my senior year.  I made sure things ran smoothly and that prints and images were ready to go on time. We had deadlines to meet.

I graduated HS in 1993 and began college. I entered some images into our local County Fair and took first place in all the categories I had entered. After arriving back home from a trip to Montana my mom told me that the owner of our 1 hr film lab wanted to talk to me about a job. I was very excited…I had wanted this job for a while but was turned down about 6 months earlier. When I asked my mom why he wanted to talk to me now, she said that he saw my work at the fair.

I went to work at the photo lab for about 3 years  saving all my money and I was finally able to purchase my first Pro camera (Nikon F4s).  While working there I was also doing some sports photography for our local newspaper that just happened to be across the street. I did that for about a year. My real love was photography for me, for my soul, not working for someone else. The money and benefits weren’t good enough at those jobs so I had to grow up and get a real job…..with benefits. Photography kind of went by the wayside for many years…

In that time digital cameras had hit the market in a big way and changed photography. I jumped on that bandwagon and am still riding it today. I love photography in general. Digital is great, fast paced and fairly simply given my background with film. I was no computer wizard so that was the tough part of the learning curve.. Film went bye bye, I wasn’t working in a darkroom or making prints anymore. I felt as though something was missing from my life. The years went on, I moved a few times, had a few more real jobs, got married and had a child…

2016 – 41 yrs old and I’ll be dammed if I can’t do what I want when I want…

I want to shoot film again, I want to make pictures and I want to develop my own film – I knew this would not happen overnight. First, after deciding that I wanted to shoot film again I also knew that I wanted to shoot Medium Format as well as 35mm.

IMG_1412

Choosing a Medium Format camera that I felt was a good fit for me took a little while. I did not want a fixer upper but I also did not want to spend an arm and a leg – remember I have a family.  I finally decided on the Mamiya C330f – Twin Lens Reflex. It shoots 120mm film and each negative is 6cm x 6cm which is quite a bit larger than 35mm. I had never shot medium format before as well as I had never shot a camera that did not have a light meter built in. Now with a camera and some film I am ready to go.  I get out there and all set up and now I am not sure how to meter the scene. Good thing I had my Nikon D810 with me. I set all the settings the same and used it to meter the scene. This worked pretty well  but if I am going to be honest it was a bit of a hassle to have another camera just for that.. A month ago I purchased a handheld light meter that does a great job. Sekonic 308 because it was small, decent price and offered both indecent and reflective light metering.

After having a few rolls of exposed film I needed to get them developed and since I did not have the proper chemicals at my house I took them to Englewood Camera to be developed. I have created a nice working relationship with the employees there and they have always done a great job with my work.

IMG_1634

Now that I had some processed film and paper to print on, I was ready to get back into the darkroom and start making prints. Well there are not many darkrooms left that don’t want either an arm or a leg or for you to bring all your own stuff i.e chemicals. After a little research I found a place up in Boulder, Colorado that offers darkroom rentals for a very reasonable price. I rent it for 3hrs at a time and this allows me enough time to get a fair amount of work done.

IMG_1644

With the camera, film, a lab to process the film and a place to make prints I am pretty well set up to begin producing my own prints again. Over the last year since acquiring the camera I have had a lot of fun buying new films, light meter and chemicals so that in the very near future I will be doing all my own developing at home. I am not sure I will ever have a place where I can make prints at home and I am OK with that. I am simply very happy I have all the tools in place to begin this journey again.

Last week I took advantage of an expired film sale that Englewood Camera had. Some of the film has been expired for almost 40 years. I just shot a roll of black and white the other day that was expired 18 years ago and after getting it developed it looked really good…no light leaks or fogging. I will be printing from those negatives tomorrow.

 

So by now you may be asking yourself, “Why is he shooting film again?” and the answer is very simply. It slows me down, makes me think and let’s me appreciate what I am shooting/doing. From setting up the camera, getting a good focus, checking the light, taking the image, getting the roll developed and then choosing the best image to print can be a time consuming process. The center print above of Yosemite Falls was taken last summer while on vacation with my daughter. Starting next week I will be doing some scans of the images and while I plan on doing scans to post online. I am not going to do any prints from the digital scans unless I get an order for one that is bigger than I can print myself.

IMG_1877

As of right now I can print up to 16×24 directly from the negatives. If I were to do a drum scan of the negative then the native print size at 300dpi would be 60×60 inches.  Yes, that is the power of shooting Medium Format film. In digital terms that would mean your file would have to be 18,000×18,000.  As soon as our living room is done being painted I will be printing an image 36×117 inches that is a panorama from my digital camera. The file size is 24089×7379.

IMG_1811

For me personally, this is something I loved to do as a kid and something I want to enjoy again. The images that I produce wont be available to the masses. Not everyone will have one and more than likely not more that 10 prints will ever be made from the same negative. From start to finish I will have my hand on the process the entire way. The images that I create on film will not be the grand landscapes you see from me today. I will be shooting people, cityscapes, close ups, abstracts, patterns, textures, shallow DOF ect…. I love shooting landscapes, big, colorful landscapes and now I want to incorporate images that tell more of a story and really make the viewer think about what they are looking at or the story that goes with the image.

I hope this gives you a little insight on what is coming up for me in the very near future. Do I plan to give up digital?, No. Just planning on shooting more film along the way.

IMG_1656

Be sure to contact me directly if you have any questions or just want to talk about photography. You can also find me on the interwebs, FB, IG, and TW..

Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art lens

 

The first time I used this lens back in May 2016 I fell in love with it for a couple of reasons. The focal length, 20mm, is a real sweet spot for both landscape photographers and night photographers as well. Fast 1.4 f stop. While we don’t tend to normally shoot at the widest f stop on a lens having a 1.4 really gives you some breathing room when it comes to exposure and sharpness.  Let’s say you are doing night photography and you have a Rokinon 14 2.8 and you have a Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art Lens. The scene you are shooting is very dark  with only minimal light. with the Rokinon you may have your camera set at 6400ISO for 30 seconds in order to get a good exposure but you find that your images are coming out fairly noisy at that ISO. With the Sigma 20mm you could shoot at F 1.4 at ISO 1600 for 30 seconds and get the same exposure value. Now while the sigma does offer an amazing 1.4 f stop, it’s rare that I would shoot at that for my work. Generally speaking the widest f stop on any lens will also give you the least quality. Shooting at 1.4 would be very fun for some up close daytime stuff where you are feeling a bit artistic or even at night when you don’t mind of the stars are out of focus and you just want to focus on your foreground subject…  I have found that the real sweet spot for this lens is right at F2 or F2.2 depending on what I am shooting and the available light. Which is still quite a bit faster than a 2.8 lens.  In the images I will be sharing with you, you will be able to see the data for the lens used. I shoot this lens between 1.8 and 2.8 when I am shooting at night.  Enough talk, let’s see what I am talking about. The first set of images are multi shot panoramic images I captured with the Sigma 20mm. 1.4. Because of the extremely low distortion it makes stitching the images very easy.

 

This next set of images were taken later in the Summer when the Milky Way rising up overhead instead of low on the horizon. These are vertical panoramas all taken with the Sigma 20mm 1.4 lens.

Each of the images below were created using either multiple exposures or single long exposures.

The final set of images I would like to share are just simple single exposure, shorter exposures and general photographs taken with the wonderful Sigma 20mm 1.4

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to respond. Thank you.

2016 – A Year In Review

It feels good to sit down with a little free time and finally write this blog. As bad as I wanted to write this before I left for my trip on Dec 21st, 2016 and just get it out-of-the-way, I am glad I waited. One of my favorite images of the year was captured on New Years Eve in Bandon, Oregon. Taking 2 weeks away from the chaos of the holidays was the perfect way to end the year and cleanse my mind. I spent my time along the Oregon Coast and the weather was really nice for December.

I am doing this a bit different from most other photographers. Many photographers simply pick their favorite images of the year. I am going to share with you 2 images from each month. That being said, obviously some will be much better than others simply because there are certain months of the year when I don’t do as much in the field.

January – Starting the year off with a bang broncos-win-afc-championship-game-20161

Holy Cow! If you were a Denver Bronco Fan then your year started off pretty dang good when they beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to win the AFC Championship and head to the Super Bowl. I had 2 options. Buy a ticket to the game and get a shot from the inside or find this vantage point and hope they won. Including myself there were only 3 photographers who had this view and only 1 other photographer who got a shot similar to this. We were on the overpass (in a pedestrian walk area) getting live updates from our phones so that we could time our shooting so we did not miss the fireworks. The fireworks only lasted a couple of seconds and they were gone. Given all the back story to this image, this is a once in a lifetime shot. Peyton Manning’s last game in this stadium. The last time he would ever play against Tom Brady. Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @82mm, 64 ISO, F16, 1/4th second. Multiple images at these settings combined to make the final image.

rustic-winter-morning

Steamboat, Colorado is such a beautiful small place. I had been wanting to photograph this old historic barn/cabin for several years and the right conditions never presented themselves when I could go. After learning about a massive snowfall and then a day of clearing, I took my chances, I arrived in the middle of the night and simply waited for this light. Sunrise this morning was a bust, it was very foggy. After a couple of hours the sun had come up and the fog had lifted. I feel blessed to have shot this with no footprints or any signs of people. What drew me to this particular image was the shadows and lines in the snow. I also loved how the wood grain of the barn contrasted so nicely as the sun was hitting it. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @62mm, F9, 64 ISO,  1/250th second.

February balanced-rock-mono

Balanced Rock is an iconic location in Colorado’s “Garden of the Gods”.  From the parking area the rock really doesn’t look like it’s going to tip over because the base seems so much larger. I was set on trying to find an angle and vantage point that was a bit more dramatic. Something that would really give the viewer the illusion that it was ready to fall at any moment. Even walking around while standing up was different from getting low to the ground, as I did in this shot. I used the widest lens I had, got very close to the ground and shot the image looking up. I waited for a few minutes until the clouds were right over the rock to add a bit more drama to the overall image.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F11, 64 ISO, 1/20th second.

sunrise-trees

No scene is ever the same twice. This is 100% true when speaking about landscape photography. If you see something you like, you better shoot it now because it will be totally different when you come back. I was actually on my way to another location when I was driving into Chatfield Lake State Park near my home here in Colorado. I saw the sky blowing up with color through the trees and I had to stop and get this shot. It took a moment to compose it to my liking and while this image doesn’t have a huge impact at this smaller size. Imagine it as a very large print in the 50×50 inch range. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105, F5.6, 200 ISO, 1/160th second

Marchoregon-storms

A typical, classic overcast day along the Oregon Coast. I had spent most of the morning hiking around the various areas of Cape Meares and I could see a big storm rolling in out over the ocean. As I made my way back up the trail I found this scene with the layered clouds and seas that were just starting to get rough. The color version looks black and white with very little contrast. I decided to just go with the Monochrome on this one and bring out the drama I was seeing with my own eyes when I shot the image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @68mm, 64 ISO, F8, 1/80th second

sunset-circle

Ahhh, those springtime sunsets. The ponds have thawed, there are still some clouds in the sky and the colors are so unique. When I was walking around the pond I couldn’t quite find the comp I was looking for so I decided to do a panorama image of the entire scene. My results fascinated me. I never expected the land to be perfectly level with the clouds forming a circle in the sky and reflection. I believe this is a 5 shot vertical pano covering 180 degrees as I am looking north. The clouds were the reason I decided to pick this image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @24mm, 100 ISO, F8, 1/2 second.

April

rainbow-from-red-rocks

I live 11 miles from Red Rocks and when I am home and there are no concerts going on this makes a nice vantage point to get above the city. I could see these clouds building up and was actually going up there for sunset. The weather in Colorado is crazy, don’t let anyone tell you different. As the sun began to set behind us and this cloud started pouring down rain, this gorgeous rainbow appeared. This lasted for about 3-4 minutes before the clouds behind us got dark and angry. We barely had time to get to the car before the lightning was striking all around us and hail was pounding the ground.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105, 64 ISO, F8, 1/320th second.

milky-way-rainbow

The Milky Way Rainbow over the Paint Mines near Calhan, Colorado. Away from the town of Colorado Springs far enough to take advantage of some really dark skies is a beautiful place known as the Paint Mines.  We timed this image so that we could get the full moon rising a couple of hours before sunrise. This image showcases a few different things. A full 180 degree Milky Way. Roughly 8 images were used for the panorama sequence. The full moon rising under the Milky Way, the Milky Way bubble with the Lagoon Nebula and a very very rare siting of Comet 252p/linear. I am not sure if you can see that on this image but during April many photographers were noticing a small green dot in their night images. After doing a little research I found out that it was indeed a comet. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm – 3200 ISO, F2.8, 30 seconds.

Mayblack-ponds-1

During one of our workshops in Grand Teton National Park. While our Night Photography Workshops focus on shooting the night sky, we also like to allow our students to take advantage of sunset conditions when they present themselves. We could see this forming for miles. We arrived at this location with our students and it was fun to watch them all scatter and find a good vantage point. Mike stayed up top with some of the students and I went down along the creek with the rest and then the sky just started lighting up and put on a show for about 30 min. It was one of the most incredible sunsets I had ever seen. When we all gathered back at the cars we were all just speechless. It was a great bonus for our students to get to see such an amazing sight in such an amazing place. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @35mm, 64 ISO, F8, 1/15th second.

my-million-star-hotel

I’m not sure there is a better place to get a good nights rest. This particular night I went out with 2 other photographers down to 11 mile reservoir west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. We knew our timing was perfect for the milky way shots we wanted to get. One of my friends decided to bring his yellow tent. Towards the end of the night we decided it was time to set it up. The Milky Way was in the perfect location in the sky for the shots we wanted.  Many people will argue that this is a composite image or multiple image blend but I can assure you this is a single exposure. We used some creative lighting techniques to properly illuminate the tent from the inside and the longer, blurry stars in the water are simply from the water moving a little bit during the exposure. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24mm 1.4, F2.2, 1600 ISO, 30 seconds.

Junebleeding-light

Vacation time with my daughter. We set out on a 6 week road trip, traveling through many states and national parks. We left our home in Denver and drove straight through to Yosemite NP in California. Crazy I know. It was her idea. I will openly admit I had never been here before and I had not planned out any places to shoot. I wanted to experience it with fresh eyes and no set images I wanted.  We car camped up at Glacier Point that night and what a great experience that was for her. My daughter loves car camping. It was a crystal clear night, billions of stars to see. The next day we wandered around the park in the early hours after sunrise and I found this scene. I loved the way the light was beaming down behind the rocks yet in the middle of the scene. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @90mm, F7.1, 64 ISO, 1/320th second.

coastal-clover-sunset

As much as I love the Oregon Coast all year-long, there is one thing that makes Summer that much more special. The clover blooms along the beach. When you book a room at either the Overleaf Lodge and Spa or Fireside Motel these blooms are right our your front door on the beach. I happened to be here at peak season and they were beautiful . There was a very thin haze in the sky which made for a very colorful sunset in spite of the fact that there were no clouds. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @52mm, 200 ISO, F13, 1/80th second

Julydelicate-explosion1

Delicate Arch, Moab, Utah, Arches National Park with the Milky Way bursting out from behind. I had tried this shot on many occasions and was bound and determined to get it right. I knew it could not be done with 1 image so I started looking around for software programs that would zoom the stars for you. I didn’t find any that I thought gave good results. One night while out shooting I decided to use my zoom lens and do a longer exposure while zooming the lens. It worked. It took me a few tries to get it like I wanted but in the end I had the stars just how I wanted. I knew I could then shoot the arch and blend to the 2 together. For those of you who have been up to Delicate arch in the summer, you know the Milky Way does appear right behind the arch. It’s quite a sight to experience. I was happy to be able to make my vision come to life with this image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 20 seconds

colorado-morning

Rocky Mountain National Park, 90 miles from my home. This particular morning I was scouting for Elk in the meadow and I noticed these clouds forming over the mountain. I walked along the stream to find a decent comp where I could include the foreground rocks under the water. A short exposure freezing the water would not allow the viewer to see the rocks. By using a slightly longer shutter speed the water moved over the rocks during the exposure and allowing them to be visible. When I took this shot I remember thinking how nice it was the way the clouds expanded from the mountain covering the entire sky of my frame. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F18, 31 ISO,  0.8 seconds.

Augustkolors-of-kansas

August was the month I fell in love with Kansas all over again. I used to visit all the time as a kid. We had (have) family that live there. I remember big hail storms in the summer and everyone running for cover. Broken windows, dented cars, ect… I met Barbara Mandrell in Kansas back in the early 80’s. Family got older, we quit going to the reunions and time passed. Then one day while scrolling through the internet I found this picture of an arch. An arch I had never seen before. When I found out it was in Kansas and only a 5 hr drive…I took off. Not knowing what to expect I figured I would get out there, see it and then turn around and come home. Quite the opposite. While the area is rather small and there are only 2 rock formations on the property, you can walk around all of them to get different views and angles, depending on what the weather is doing. I went out there twice  for a couple of days at a time and there was never a dull moment. massive thunder and lighting storms all night and epic sunrise and sunsets in the morning and evening.  This particular image was taken just as the sun was setting and these monster clouds were building. I kid you not. An hour after I shot this, we had major lighting bolts 366 degrees all around us. It was amazing. I left the person in here to give the area a sense of scale. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F15, 64 ISO, 1/2 second.

milky-way-monsoon

And then it happened. This cloud produced serious lighting all night long. While most of it was internal it still lit up the cloud very nicely. Again, this is a single exposure image. There are a few areas of the clouds that look like they are layered and the reason that it looks that way is because the lightning was going off multiple times during the exposure so the clouds were in very slightly different positions, therefore, showing the movement of the clouds. This was only the second time in my life where I had a chance to witness a storm cloud and lighting with the clear sky above. The previous time was up in RMNP and I was already at 11k feet. This image in Kansas was taken at sea level. Exif Data – Nikon D810 –Sigma 24-35 @24mm, F2.2, 1600 ISO, 30 seconds.

Septemberwindow-to-the-heavens

Mike and I plan our workshops roughly 9 months in advance. After looking at the dates for our final Arches workshop in 2016 I began to do a bit of research. I had been to this location several times for sunrise or sunset and even one time at night by myself. None of the images I go turned out like this. This was the image I wanted. I had been dreaming of this image for about 3 years. I quickly checked the position of the Milky Way and knew it would be lined up perfectly. I knew with both instructors we would have enough light panels to properly light each of the areas of the arches. We made the suggestion to our students on what was a crystal clear night and they jumped at the chance to do this. We had 2 students from Austria who were very excited about this location and were asking me about it even before the workshop started. Working together with other people to create an image that is rarely seen sure is a nice treat. Mike worked with one group of students back at Turret Arch and I worked with another group at this location. By using walkie talkies we were able to do test shots until we got the lights in just the right spot. We let after my group got their shots, we let the groups switch locations so that everyone who wanted a chance to shoot this got it. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 25 seconds.

oxbows-autumn

Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming. Mount Moran reflecting in the very calm Snake river as the fall colors line the banks. When shooting this location ( and I have many times ) it’s amazing how just a few steps this way or that way can really make a difference in your composition based on the way you’re facing the mountains. We generally schedule our final workshop of the year in Grand Teton National Park. We are able to take advantage of the late summer Milky Way as well as the fall colors. When we have ambitious students like we normally do, it’s not uncommon to show up at class in the afternoon and hear how awesome their day was shooting the sunrise. We really like that they can take advantage of the other wonderful scenery as well as the gorgeous night sky. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F5.6, 64 ISO, 1/250th second.

Octobercrystal-mill-fall-sunrise

I have a 4×4 Jeep but it’s not really suited for the kind of driving needed to get up to the infamous Crystal Mill near Crystal, Colorado. So, when a group of friends asks you to go along for a weekend of shooting and camaraderie up in the mountains, you don’t say no. Even better was the fact that we were going during the fall colors and we had a cabin right across the street. I had seen a billion shots of this mill and knew I wanted something at least slightly different for my own. Anyone who has been here knows that it’s a pretty cramped location. You can just pull out a 35mm lens when you’re down near the water and get the whole scene in the shot… I mean that mill is right there in front of you looking down on you.  I used the widest lens I had at the time and did a sequence of about 7 shots to get this more than 180 degree pano and still include the entire stream and the sky. I had to leave a day early  and when I left there was a nice storm blowing in and the next day all the fall color was gone and the trees were bare. Hearing that made me even more glad that we arrived when we did and not put it off till the following weekend. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, 7 images, F22, 64 ISO, 1/20th second.

pumpkin-spiced-aspens

After getting back down to my Jeep I knew I had the whole day ahead of me. I wasn’t in a rush to get home. I took my time wandering around Colorado and enjoying the fall colors. We stopped in Crested Butte and had lunch at Secret Stash Pizza. So good. Highly recommended when you’re in Crested Butte, CO. After some pizza I continued on my way home, again not in a hurry. I was getting close to Buena Vista when I saw a sign for Cottonwood Lake. I had never been there before and decided to drive down the road to see what I could find. Well, let me tell you, that entire area is great for fall colors. As I was looking for a nice grove of Aspens I also knew I wanted some color mixed in. By this time the sun was getting low on the horizon and the road, which is pretty much just a canopy of Aspen trees wasn’t letting much light in. I was almost to the end and I looked to my left and saw these nice Aspens with some nice colors mixed in. I quickly  grabbed my camera and took 2 shots before the light totally changed the entire scene. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F7.1, 200 ISO, 1/40th second.

Novembertree-trunks-in-the-sunset-light

One of the things I always tell people is that the light is never the same twice. Even if it looks close, it’s not. Your camera will read it differently each time. These trees are generally pretty ugly and not much to look at. I walk around this pond where they are located often, usually not seeing much to shoot. This particular evening happened to be different. The light was low and soft. Some fall color still remained and the way the light was hitting the grasses really struck a chord with me. I carefully composed the image with the trees offset so that nothing was centered. I wanted the viewer to be able to look around in the image yet not go out of the frame. By keeping a tree on each side I feel I accomplished this. I also liked the layers this image offered. From the golden grasses to the reds and then back to the sunlight coming in from the top. I felt as though there was just enough depth to make it work. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 105macro, F2.8, 64 ISO, 1/50th second.

hallett-nights

Hallett Peak from Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, I like to shoot at night when it’s cold. Not only do the skies seem clearer but the cool temps also keep your sensor from heating up too quick and adding excess noise to your images. This image was actually shot as we were leaving. We had been shooting from the other side as the moon was rising and lighting up another mountain. As we were leaving I noticed the partially frozen lake and thought that might make a nice foreground in addition to the stars in the sky. As you can see here this is a late in the year Milky Way image. The Milky Way has already flipped over and is now leaning  slightly to the north.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 30 seconds.

Decemberpolar-express

The Polar Express – Durango, Colorado. This gorgeous steam engine is historic yet well-kept up by the Silveton Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad. You can hear it all over town when it’s running and on a cold winter morning the steam is really thick and there is lots of it. When you are on a family trip it makes things a bit more difficult to get a particular shot you may want. Adding to that the schedule of the train and it can be near impossible. One afternoon before we went to lunch I asked when the train was going to be coming back into the station?  They told me 2:45pm. That worked for me. As we were finishing up our lunch I noticed the sky getting darker as if there was a storm moving in. I went down to the tracks and found a good vantage point that would allow me to fill the frame with the steam engine. Just after I shot this it started pouring cats and dogs…I packed up my gear and found cover.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F7.1, 200 ISO, 1/500th second.

bandon-new-year-eve-light-show

Last but not least, the reason I waited to write this blog until after my trip to Oregon over the holidays. In the 10+ years I have been going to Bandon, Oregon I have only been totally skunked one time. Even when the weather is overcast you can still get some great shots. It’s simply a photographers paradise. I had been in Bandon for 4 days and didn’t have many clouds. I, personally, like clouds in my images. I am not a fan of clear blue skies unless I am planning on shooting the stars at night (I did some of that too). Just as my luck would have it the clouds started forming early on New Years Eve day. I could see it was going to be great. I just needed to find a nice comp that would showcase not only the clouds reflecting in the wet sand but also the depth of the beach.  I found my comp, made sure there was separation between the 3 middle rocks and then started shooting. I did some long exposures, short exposures, really long exposures, some with the water coming into the frame, some without out. While I am out shooting I generally will shoot though most scenes and then pick the best one when I get back to have a good look on the computer. Something about the waterline in this one as the wave stopped and then headed back out to the sea really caught my eye. I feel like when I am looking at this my eye initially sees the entire scene but then follows the white line through the frame. This lets the viewer explore more of what the scene has to offer. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end 2016. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @24mm, F14, 64 ISO, 2.5 seconds.

As you can see 2016 was a great year. I had a wonderful time with my family in various locations as well as co teaching our night photography workshops. All of these images are available as Fine Art Photographic Prints, Fine Art Canvas Gallery Wraps, Fine Art Metal Prints or Fine Art Acrylic Face Mount Prints. I will offer special discounts to those of you who contact me via the contact form below.  Simply message me with the medium you would like, the image description and size. Thank you all again for your continued support throughout the years. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog,

Darren White – Darren White Photography

What’s in my bag – Gear I use

I often get asked, “what camera and what lens did you shoot that with?” Generally speaking my answer is usually, “a digital SLR.”  A very vague answer, yes. Every photographer has a different goal with their work. We are not all going to print 40×96 images nor are all of us just going to simply post online. We photograph for many various reasons and I can honestly tell you that the best camera to have is the one you have with you.  I am seeing more and more magazine covers that have been shot with smartphones. Our phones do a pretty good job when we don’t have to make huge prints or we just want to share something to Instagram or Facebook.  Now try to print that same photo as a 24×36 and see  how it looks. Probably not so great. For me, personally, I need to make sure my images are clean, sharp and will enlarge without showing artifacts.

I feel safe in saying that 98% of all digital SLR cameras today do a pretty dang good job with image quality. When faced with basic daylight landscape shooting I think it would be very hard to tell the difference in an 12×18 print shot with 12, 16, 20, or 36mp camera. Blow that same image up to a 40×60 and now the difference will show.

Just like a construction worker needs the right tools for his/her job we as photographers need the right tools for our jobs, whatever that may be. While I do large format printing on a regular basis there are those rare exceptions like back in 2009 when I had a request from a company to print one of my images 5ft by 10ft as a backdrop for their exhibit. At the time I was shooting a 12mp Nikon D300 and needless to say the test prints were not coming back looking very good. I did some tweaking on my end and the printer did some tweaking on their end and we finally got it printed.

Below you will see what I am currently using with the gear list below the image.

bag-contents

Induro CTX 314 Carbon Fiber Tripod w/ BHL3s ballhead

Nikon D810, Nikon F4s, Mamiya C330f Medium format twin lens reflex

Sigma Lenses 15mm fisheye, 20mm, 24-35mm, 24-105mm, 35mm, 105mm macro

Nisi Filters 10 stop ND, 6 stop ND, Circ Polarizer, Blue/Orange

Nikon MC-36 cable release, Vello wireless remote trigger, Manual cable release for My Mamiya C330

Nitecore flashlights, Tiny Monster TMGT16, NightBlade MH25, MH27, EC25 Cobra

I am currently using Kodak and Ilford color and black and white films. I carry a couple microfiber cloths with me to clean my lens if I need to.

Joby mini tripod with F&V HDVZ96 16×9 LED Light Panel

Cabelas Multi tool pocket knife.

Kingston waterproof media card holders

Nikon Charger and extra battery

Business cards and sensor cleaning kit.

CaseLogic Kontrast DSLR backpack

Tamrac shoulder bag – I use this for my medium format gear.

I believe that is all the gear I currently have. It was good for me to do this as I am leaving for Oregon on Thursday and I needed to re organize all my gear in my bags.

If you have any questions please feel free to use the form below to contact me.

Night Photography – The Art of Creating Images at Night.

northern-lights-over-jackson-lake-pano

What is Night Photography?  Taking your camera out at night after the sun goes down. Sounds easy enough, right?  I mean you already know how to take pictures in the day time so why would night be any different? Lots of reasons. I have been co teaching night photography workshops for 3 years now and I have seen a lot of various skill levels come through our classes. Some of our students by brand new gear just before the workshop and find out what they like or don’t like and then send the rest back. We recommend renting gear you may need from Lens Rentals. I have used them for several years and they have been great to work with.

Night Photography is actually quite a bit more than just taking your camera out at night and taking images… There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself if this is new to you. Let’s say there is a meteor shower coming up and you are very interested in capturing some meteors but you have never shot at night before…

  • How do you focus in the dark?
  • Will you be shooting with a manual focus lens or autofocus
  • What should my exposure be?
  • Do I need a tripod?
  • Do I need a cable release?
  • Do I have enough memory?
  • Do I have enough batteries?

These are a list of questions you need to ask yourself before heading out for a night shoot. Not knowing the answer or not having one of these pieces of gear could ruin your whole night. You arrive at your vantage point, set your camera up and you see these meteors shooting across the sky. You shoot and 1 of 2 things happens ( I can say all of this because it has happened to me) Your image is very dark or it’s very blurry. Opps, you forgot to change the settings on your camera from the last time you shot… You set your autofocus lens to infinity. These meteors are shooting across the sky and you are frustrated because you can’t get a good picture and you don’t know what’s wrong. You continue to fumble around and still nothing good is coming out of the images you are taking… after about 30 min you pack it up, go home and rack your brain as to why things didn’t work out..

Here is what happened. Chances are you were trying to use your camera on one of the program settings.. P is not for Professional, A is not for Awesome. M,is for magic, the manual setting is where it all happens.. You take that camera and you personally make the settings you want the camera to do.. To make the magic happen you need to do a few things.

Focus – Using  your camera in manual focus mode with Live View on you can then zoom in all the way and focus on the brightest star in the sky. This will allow you to precisely focus for the best image quality.

Exposure – Trust your histogram – It’s dark out so your eyes will be easily fooled by looking at the LCD. Let’s say you take an image at 1600 ISO for 30 seconds and it pops up on the LCD and you think, “Wow”, this is awesome…and you do this all night. The next morning you get home and start to look at them on the screen and see they are really way too dark. So you make some adjustments to your shadows and exposure in Photoshop only to find some horrible purple noise show up. Not good. While it may be hard to do on a moonless night, “Exposing to the Right” will always yield the best results. Trust your histogram, learn what it is telling you. Don’t be afraid to push your cameras ISO unless you are using a very old camera. If you are using an older camera we have some tips for you on how to take great night images without getting a lot of noise – Stacking for Noise Reduction

balanced-spin

Night Photography is huge. There is quite a lot that goes into getting a great night image. From set up to post production. If you can focus in the dark and understand how to get a good exposure this is a huge step in creating great night images.

Planning your shot is crucial. Knowing if the moon will be rising or setting or if there even is a moon on the night you want to go out. If you have never been to a location before but are planning a trip and want to see if your shot is possible, I recommend Planit! For Photographers  $5.99. During our workshops Mike Berenson dives into using this to plan a shot. What is cool about this app is that it takes into account elevation. You don’t want to get to a spot in the mountains only to find that the mountain you want to shoot the Milky Way over is blocked by another mountain/hill. It also has a Milky Way seeker so you can pinpoint the best days to get out and shoot if you want to shoot the Milky Way Bubble. Another app I use a lot is Stellarium it’s free and very easy to use. It’s easy for me to know when and where the Milky Way will rise as well as see what else is in the sky.

longs-peak-detail

This next image shows you something I had never seen before. This is a 100% partial view of an image I captured while doing a panorama sequence.  I have known what Andromeda looks like in the night sky but I had never seen the other galaxy. Would you believe this was shot with a 20mm lens. It’s simply incredible and what the camera sensors can pick up.

tma

The Milky Way is hard to see in the above image of  Longs Peak over Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park due to the 3/4 Moon that was up in the sky. Still some of the other features of the night stood out pretty well. I was able to identify each of these by using the Stellarium App on my iPhone. Knowing what it is you are looking at will make stargazing and photographing the night sky so much more enjoyable for you.

Let’s take a look at some images that feature the Milky Way. Below is an image taken from Independence Pass in Colorado. This is an image which shows the brilliance of the night sky when there is no light pollution or moonlight to dim the view. The second image below was taken on a moonless night as well. This is Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah.

2-and-a-half-mile-high-milky-way

landscape-arch-milky-way

The Milky Way bubble as seen from String Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Being near the small town of Jackson, Wyoming provides a small amount of light pollution as well as great visibility. As you can see here the Milky Way really stands out and the color adds a bit to the overall scene.

11-mile-milky-way

These next 3 images show a little more light pollution and how artificial light can add to a scene. The top image was taken on a very very clear night along the Oregon coast. The seastacks were light by the house lights up on the hill to my left. I had my camera on auto white balance and it created a gorgeous contrast between the blue sky and the warm golden tones of the rocks. The 2nd image was taken up in Rocky Mountain National Park with the lights of Denver below. Delicate Arch in Arches National Park faces the town of Moab, Utah. the lights from Moab can add quite a bit of light or drama if there are clouds in the sky. You can see the glow from the lower left corner of the arch.

oregon-nightsrocky-mountain-heavenstent-at-delicate-arch

Giving the viewer a sense of place in your images. For places that people have never been, sometimes it can be hard for them to understand how big or small a place is. We like to add some key elements into our images to help the viewer. As with the above image we added a tent. No we did not camp here.  Capturing images with people by taking a few steps back away from the scene and including more can have quite an impact on the viewer. Below you will see some of our students taking advantage of the great skies behind Delicate Arch on the last night of our workshop.

arches-workshop-no-master

What are some other types of night photography you can think of? It doesn’t always have to be the Milky Way or static stars…  I like to get out to the city once in a while at night and roam around to see what I can find. Each of the below images are 30 second exposures to allow the cars to create trails of light.

speer-and-25denver-fog-framedcars-and-clouds

Moon photography proves to be the hardest for me. It takes a great lens, very sturdy tripod and no wind to get a really good image of the Moon. The Moon is most easily photographed when it’s either rising or setting just before or after sunrise or sunset. A full moon high in the sky at night is by far the most challenging.

moon-and-jupitertrees-in-the-moonlightblood-moon-april-4-2015cnm-moonrise

We use LED Lights to help illuminate some of the scenes we shoot. Light painting is an art form in and of itself. Over the years we have found some more simply ways to light dark scenes for great effects…

First image used 3 LED panels to properly light both North Window and Turret Arch. The second image shows Mesa arch being lit by 2 LED panels strategically placed to create the light you see here. In the 3rd image I lined up the Milky Way with the arch in the rock and placed my LED panel on the backside of the Arch. The 4th images was created with 1 LED light but just before my exposure stopped, Mike’s camera finished his exposure and that is what is creating the blue light from his camera. The last image is using only 2 small candle lights.

window-to-the-heavensmysterious-mesaarchways-and-milky-waysshooting-corona1science-at-the-summit

Super long single exposures allow you to create clean images with nice star trails. Often times I will use the foreground from a super long exposure (30 or more minutes) and put it with the static stars from a shorter exposure for best printing quality. Each of the images below are single images leaving the shutter open about an hour. Depending on which way your camera is facing the star trails will have a different line of travel.

garden-of-eden-nightsgrand-view-nightwindmills-and-stars

And last but not least, stepping out of the box once again and creating vertical panoramas of the night sky and our foreground subjects. Each of the images below is at least 180 Degree full overhead panorama of the Milky Way in the Night Sky. This is much easier to do in the Summer months when the Milky Way is overhead right after sunset.

 

I hope this blog has inspired you to get out and try your hand at night photography. If you want to read more about our articles and tutorials   <–click here.

If you would like to see what our previous students have said about our workshops please visit our Testimonials.

If you want to take your night photography to the next level and beyond, please take advantage of our December Discount Days and get 20% off all monies paid towards any 2017 workshop. You can see the entire schedule here. Simply enter december at checkout and your discount will be applied.

I thank you for your time and please feel free to leave me a comment or question.

Darren White