Night Photography All Year long!

I know so many people who put their cameras away around the end of September when the Milky Way Core dips back below the horizon. Around mid Feb to early March they bring them back out again when the Milky Way core rises up over the horizon in the early hours of the morning right before sunrise. This year on Feb 2nd the core was up and able to be photographed only a few min before the light of dawn came and washed all the stars away.. Was I out there to see and photograph it, yes. For me, personally, it’s very exciting to see that Milky Way core for the first time in a new year. It signals 8 months of great shooting ahead. Do I put my camera away in September when the core dips below the horizon? No! I photograph the night sky all year-long. I love the night sky. Often the cold, Winter nights are some of the clearest and darkest. Here in Colorado where we have very dry air it makes visibility that much better.

I have put together a series of images that span all of 2018 of the night sky. I do night photography all year-long and while this blog post wont include a shot I just recently took, you will see it next year when I do my review of 2019. It was a shot I had wanted for a long time and I was finally able to make happen.

Let’s take a look at some night images in order month by month. I will include the times taken and the dates so you can note the changes you see in the sky as we progress through the year.

January

Orion Over Loveland Pass
Orion Over Loveland Ski Area – Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm @24mm, F/4, 1600 ISO, 10 seconds

Orion over Loveland Ski area in Colorado. Orion is a winter constellation and one of the most easily recognizable in the southern sky. Light fall off from cars and the resort area helped to light up the side of the mountain.  January 14, 2018. 7:45pm

February

11mile
11 Mile – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 6400, F/2, 13 seconds

Eleven Mile Reservoir is becoming a more popular spot for night photographers. It offers nice dark skies for how close it is to Colorado Springs and it also has a very flat horizon. This means that because there are not mountains or tall trees in the way, it’s easy to see the Milky Way Core very early when it rises in February.  The Milky Way is very low on the horizon and makes it very easy to do panoramas between Feb and June. Feb 16th, 2018. 5:51am

March

Smokey Valley Milky Way
Smokey Valley Milky Way – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 15 seconds

Late Feb and March are my favorite times to do panoramas of the Milky Way while the galactic core is rising up in the south. This image was shot in Kansas just before sunrise and covers a full 180 degrees from North to South looking due East. March 16th, 2018. 5:52am

Big Dipper over Abandoned House
Big Dipper over Abandoned Home – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 10 seconds

The Big Dipper is a constellation we can photograph all year-long here in the Northern Hemisphere. I liked how it was looking over this old, abandoned home in Kansas. I used a Sigma 20mm to try to frame the house and Big Dipper as a tight crop when I probably would have been better off using the Sigma 14mm 1.8 and given myself a little more breathing room up top.  March 17th 2018. 4:31am

April

Delicate Skies Over Moab
Delicate Skies Over Moab – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 5000, F/2.2, 20 seconds

By April we now have quite a bit of time to photograph the Milky Way Core before sunrise. 2-3 hours at least which makes it nice so that you don’t feel rushed. In Feb we have just a few minutes which can make it frustrating if anything goes wrong. April is the beginning of warmer weather for most of us and makes for some enjoyable nights under the skies compared to the sub freezing temps of Jan and Feb. We use Low Level Lighting to illuminate the arch during our Night Photography Workshops April 18th, 2018. 3:15am

Rocky Mountain Sky Candy
Rocky Mountain Sky Candy – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 20 seconds

Rocky Mountain National Park is a photographer’s dream. There is so much to shoot both day and night. Critical timing, moon phases and weather all play a factor in getting a shot like this. If you want to photograph the Milky Way over Longs Peak as seen here, planning is key.  After watching the weather, checking the moon phases and my own personal schedule I knew I had one night to shoot this. I called a couple of friends and they were in. We began our hike at midnight to arrive at this viewpoint in time to get set up and do some test shots before the Milky Way was in position. It was cold out, but still a fun night I will remember for the rest of my life. April 22nd, 2018. 3:35am

May

Dark Horse Over Windows with labels
Nikon D810, Sigma 50mm 1.4, ISO 10,000, F/2, 10 seconds
Milky Way Ride1
Nikon D810, Sky – Sigma 50mm 1.4, Foreground 11 min Sigma 20mm 1.4, F/2.5, ISO 64

One of the things we like to do during our workshops is to give a tour of the night sky. Mike uses his laser pointer to point out all the celestial objects in the sky. Here I have labeled a lot of them. It’s interesting to me that the Lagoon Nebula is 600 trillion miles across. Let that sink in for a while! We here on Earth are a very rare moment in time. The fact that humans even exist is a miracle in and of itself. It’s also amazing that we can capture such beauty of the sky with our tiny little cameras and sensors or film. Enjoy the moment cause as they say, “we’re here for a good time, not a long time”  May 14th, 2018. 12:42am

Dead Horse Dreams
Dead Horse Dreams – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2, 25 seconds

From Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah we were able to see, from the right side of the Milky Way, Antares, Jupiter and Spica.  May 19th, 2018. 3:28am

June

Mesas Comp
Foreground – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 64, F/13, 1/100th second – Sky – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 8000, F/2.5, 10 seconds

Wanting to see a bit more of the lower portion of the Milky Way, I decided to drive from Denver down to New Mexico for a night. My efforts paid off with beautiful clear skies with warm weather. Photographing the Milky Way in the summer is a treat because it’s shorts and tee-shirt weather most all night long. The issue with the warmer weather is that your sensor will heat up faster and produce more noise. Winter is actually better for night photography because the cooler temps keep the sensor cooler and produce less noise. When I arrived at this old church (still in use 2 times a year) I knew I wanted the best image possible. I used PhotoPills to map exactly where the Milky Way was going to come up. I then positioned my camera and shot for the church during sunset at ISO 64.  I then waited until 11pm when the Milky Way was in position and shot 21 back to back shots at ISO 8000 of the sky so I could stack them for noise reduction and blend them with the low ISO church image.  June 4th, 2018. 11:10pm

Old Timer
Old Timer – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 10 seconds

Another trip to Kansas to shoot the Milky Way with my friend Jim and his daughter Annie. Jim knew this where this old combine was just sitting in a field. He obtained permission from the property owner so that we could have an evening to shoot he Milky Way. I actually didn’t mind the clouds on both ends of the Milky Way. June 15th, 2018. 11:15pm

July

Crater Lake Twisty Tree
Crater Lake Twisty Tree – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 15 seconds

During a 6 week road trip through the Northwest my travels took me to Crater Lake National Park. Actually it was all part of the plan. I wasn’t sure what day I would get here so I really lucked out on this part. The faint clouds you see here on the horizon are actually front of the smoke from the California and southern Oregon wildfires that were burning.  I only shot 1 night at Crater lake and I am thankful that was all I planned. The next few days you couldn’t even see the lake for all the smoke in the sky. I managed to keep at least 1 day ahead of the smoke during my travels in the Northwest. July 19th, 2018. 2:26am

Pacific Nights
Pacific Nights – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 13 seconds

One of those rare summer nights when you’re sitting on the couch at 5pm watching the weather and the weatherman tells you to expect clear skies along the coast all night long. Needless to say I wasn’t on the couch for much longer.. I looked outside and sure enough it was crystal clear (normally the marine layer comes in and clouds everything over). I grabbed my gear and made a plan. There were 3 spots I wanted to shoot this night.. Cannon Beach, Happy Camp and Pacific City. Pacific City would be the last stop of the night and I knew I would just meet up with my dad for coffee after this location. I shot the other 2 locations with some clouds and as I got further south the clouds were totally gone. I arrived here about 3am and was totally blown away with how clear it was. I took several shots of slightly different compositions and ended up liking this one the best. Some of them had reflections in the wet sand of the stars. I must have been here for 3 hours just watching and the Milky Way leaned into Haystack Rock and faded away as the daylight came. July 11th, 2018. 5:16am

August

Mountianous Majesty
Purple Mountain Majesty – Mountain – Nikon D810, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 64, F/2.5, 30 min – Sky – Nikon D810, Sigma 50mm 1.4, F/2, ISO 8000, 6 seconds x 20 images.

Finishing up our road trip with an amazing shoot with another friend, Jann, up at Mount Rainier. We had planned this shot several months in advance and being on the very end of our trip I was tired. This was my only chance in August to shoot. I had to make it count. As always I arrived early, scouted, found a good spot and patiently waited. We shot birds, flowers and the mountain before the sun went down. Knowing I had to make this the best it could be I shot a 30 min exposure for the mountain just as it got dark. This allowed me to get the best possible quality. I then waited for the Milky way to get into position and shot 20 images back to back for noise reduction. August 7th, 2018 12:15am

September

Untitled1
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 15 seconds. 

September takes us to the beginning of when we start to see Andromeda high in the night sky. It’s also the time when photographing the North end of the Milky Way is much better. Here I am standing in front of Double Arch in Arches National Park while the Milky Way leans over the arch. In this image is Cygnus the Swan, Denab, Andromeda and Cassiopeia as well as the Elephant trunk nebula. By stacking the images of the sky for noise reduction I was able to bring out some of the pink nebula colors that are natural but not seen with the naked eye. You wont see me in many pictures. I am standing here using my Nitecore MH 25 Night Blade light to illuminate the arch. September 12th, 2018. 3:52am

October

Darren at Twin Lakes in the Moonlight
Twin Lakes in the Moonlight – Nikon D810, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 15 seconds

Sometimes I go out, just to go out and shoot. I’d rather spend my nights under the stars than in a bar. I knew the moon would be coming up and that it would be almost full but that didn’t stop me. I got into night photography by photographing at night when the moon was full. I was amazed at how bright the images were and that they looked like daylight. For those who are just starting out with night photography I highly recommend doing a few shoots at night with a full moon to help get comfortable with not only setting up your camera but also getting the correct exposure. Here you can just barely see the faint stars of the Milky Way over the top of the Mountains. I am standing out in the field again with my Nitecore light on its lowest setting (didn’t do me any good this time) my mistake. I loved the calm pond water which made for a gorgeous reflection. October 19th, 2018. 9:01pm

November

November Lights
November Lights –  Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, F/2.2, ISO 6400, 25 seconds

While the Milky Way is visible all year-long, this is probably the section that is most left out or forgotten altogether. This is looking East right after sunset in early November. It has Taurus, Starfish cluster, Perseus, Polaris, Double Cluster and Denab. One thing I love about Balanced Rock in Arches National Park is that it offers 360 degree views all year long.  November 1, 2018. 9:09pm

December

Horse Rides
Horse Rides – Nikon D850, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 5 seconds

Here in Colorado the winter temps get pretty cold in December. That wont stop me from getting out and grabbing a few shots on a clear night. Especially when there is a comet in the sky. That was the case this night when Comet 46p was to make a great appearance. We arrived at this location first before moving into position for the comet which would appear a few hours later. Looking to the west here, Vega steals the spotlight with its bright blue color directly over the old stagecoach. We used Low Level Lighting (think about what your cell phone puts off from its screen) to light the side of the building and a Nitecore LA30 light for the inside of the porch. I really like this location because of the way the Milky Way leans over the mountain and the old building. December 7th, 2018, 6:51pm

Comet 46P over Stagecoach
Comet 46p – Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm for the building, Sigma 85mm for the comet

It was sure exciting to see Comet 46p on my last night shoot of 2018 but I have to admit I would have really loved to see a big tail on this one! I guess there isn’t anything I could do about that.  We used some Low Level Lighting and small tea lights to light the outside and inside of this old building. I used a Sigma 14mm for the foreground and the Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens for the comet and stars. I blended the 2 together just to make the comet a bit bigger than it would have been with the 14mm. I am now looking forward to more night sky events in 2019. December 7th, 2018. 9:29pm

 

Shooting the night sky all year is sure fun and could be seen as a project for some of you to help you get out and shoot more if you need the motivation. While many of you also live in cities or light polluted areas there are often places only a couple of hours away that will give you good viewing of the sky. I like to use Dark Site Finder to help me figure out where I can go and get the best viewing of the night sky. I also like using apps like PhotoPills during the day to plan my shoots at night.

Shooting in the winter months can be challenging for sure. If you are going after the Milky Way core then you are either getting up really early or staying up all night long and that can sure wear a person down after a few days.. Here in Colorado the weather has been super cold at night which can make it hard to be away from your car for an extended period of time. I recommend lots of warm clothes, especially for your hands and feet. Over the last several weeks I have been out shooting and never had less than 5 layers on my top, and 3 layers on my legs. When your fingers get so cold that you can’t press the shutter button on your camera, you know it’s time to get warmed up. It sure is fun though when you get home and see the images you captured.

Be sure to check out Sigma Lenses for all your photography needs

I recommend Nitecore Lights for all your illumination needs.

All prints are available for purchase either directly from me or via my website Darren White Photography

As always, thanks for taking the time to read the blog and I hope you will leave me a message or questions if you have them. I will reply to all comments I get.

 

So Far in 2019…………

I know we are only into the new year by just over a month but I thought it would be fun to share some of my work so far this year. I have been trying to make the most of my free time by getting out and shooting. As a full-time photographer it can be pretty easy to just sit in the house and edit and catch up on social media. While those are parts of the process, the process I really enjoy is being outside and capturing the images. I wont share all my new images, just the parts that will put it all together.

In early January I hosted my annual “Oregon Coast Winter Workshop” in Yachats, Oregon. Our group all had Oceanfront rooms at the amazing Overleaf Lodge and Spa

We were truly blessed with good weather. The few days before the workshop was rainy and right after the workshop the rain came back. We just happened to time it so that the 4 days during the workshop were in between storms.  Needless to say this made the workshop students happy as well as myself. My friend, Chuck Rasco of Chuck Rasco Photography always comes along on these trips with me. After the workshop was over we spent the next 5 days on the southern Oregon Coast between Bandon and Brookings. We had a good and bad weather in both places. Having lived in Oregon most my life, I felt right at home walking along the beaches in the rain. We did some crazy hikes too.

Scale
Seal Rock Sunset, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105

On Saturday night of the workshop I took the group down to the Seal Rock area near Newport, Oregon. Once we parked the cars I could see the clouds in the sky and I had a feeling that the sunset was going to be epic.  I decided to grab just my camera and one lens, my workhorse, Sigma 24-105mm Art to use for some snapshots while helping the students. Right on cue, the sky just began to explode with color. Everyone was going crazy trying to find the best comps. Moving around and making sure they were not in each other’s way, the group really worked well together. Gary Kochel planned a big northwest trip around the workshop and I think it’s easy to say that he was extremely impressed with Oregon. Here is Gary getting an epic shot from his own vantage point.

Moving down the coast after the workshop, we headed directly to Brookings and had plans to stay in Bandon on the way back up. My friend Chuck and his wife Cathy had never really explored the Samuel Boardman State Park area of Oregon. I felt as a good host, I should show them around properly. That means with a few steep hikes that lead to incredible views.

Natural Bridges
Natural Bridges, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105

The first hike was at Natural Bridges. It’s a pretty common spot for good reason, the views are amazing. Not everyone can get down to see the views from here just because it’s pretty steep. This view isn’t too bad to get to but once you go further, down to the red arrow, it gets much steeper. So steep that there is a 50ft section where you need to repel down the hill with a rope…Once we were set up at the red arrow the views were just as good.

Pacific Views
Pacific Views, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

It was right here when I realized that Chuck wasn’t too keen on heights. The Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art makes this little path look wider than it actually is. Chuck was standing almost right next to me on my right and my left tripod leg is actually off the path, down a little ways being held up by a rock. The top of the arch that we are on is maybe 4ft across. That doesn’t leave much room for error when packing up your gear and turning around to head back up the trail.

Cliffside Views
Cliffside Views, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105, Haida 10 stop ND Filter

It’s fun to shoot the same scene with various lenses. You simply get different results. This was shot from the same place, tripod in the same spot, as the last image but with a Sigma 24-105mm Art at 52mm for 67 seconds with a Haida 10 stop ND Filter

Sunset Storm at Face Rock
Sunset Storm at Face Rock, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105 Art

After powering though a few days of pouring rain in Brookings and filling up on the best breakfasts ever (we ate here 3 days in a row) Mattie’s Pancake House we made our way up the coast to Bandon. Bandon is not an open book by any means. I have been visiting Bandon now for over 10 years, maybe longer and the weather is always interesting. After getting checked into our hotel and picking up some provisions for the evening the rain started. It was windy, blowing sideways and I was thinking that our chance for a sunset was out the window…literally. As it got closer to sunset the rain let up, the sky started to break up with a few holes in the clouds. We made our way across the street to the beach in amazement that our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The wind was still kicking pretty good so I decided to put the tripod away and shoot handheld with the Sigma 24-105. The OS on this lens is incredible. We were down on the beach for about 2 hours until sunset was finally over. There were no chance of shooting stars that night so we called it a night and began walking back to our hotel… I kid you not, just as we got back to the hotel it started pouring again.

Super Blood Wolf Moon
Super Blood Wolf Moon, Nikon D850, Sigma 20mm 1.4 & Sigma 85mm 1.4

Months ago, I planned a shoot with a friend who was interested in shooting the Blood, Super Wolf Moon on the night of the 20th of January. We used PhotoPills to plan the shoot and know where exactly the moon was going to be at what time when it was eclipsed.  Since I was just getting home from 10 days in Oregon, I didn’t want to travel too far from home. South Valley Park is right behind my house and because we are looking away from Denver the sky is a little darker.  Using these rocks as a foreground subject, we set up, shot the foreground and then waited for the moon to turn red. Because it’s impossible to capture the moon and the foreground all in one shot with the proper exposure, I used 2 shots for this image. The Moon is in the exact location it was when I shot the foreground. I used the Sigma 20mm for the foreground and the 85mm for the moon. A quick blend in Photoshop to bring the two together was all it took to create this image as I saw it with my own eyes.

Since being home from Oregon, I have been jumping all over Colorado searching for fun and interesting photos. If you have been following me for any amount of time, you will know that I am really intrigued by the smaller towns on the Eastern Plains of the state. On a trip out near Matheson, Colorado with my friend, Tony Lazzari we found this beautiful old seed mill.

Manaville Seed
Manaville Seed, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

The light was just coming up over the horizon hitting the metal siding. There were just enough clouds in the sky to make good use of my Haida 10 stop ND Filter and create this really long exposure of 2 minutes. I was able to get the camera low enough so that I was looking up, by doing this I was able to include much more of the sky.

Schoolhouse Spins
Schoolhouse Spins, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

This old one room schoolhouse sits out in the middle of nowhere. In fact I have only seen a couple pictures of it online. It’s 150 miles from my house. While Bob Coorsen and I were setting up, a truck pulled up and asked where we were from. We told him and then he proceeded to tell us how his grandfather and father both attended school here back in the day. I have searched high and low and I can’t find any information on this school. The mad did say that a few years back he was going to buy it and put a new roof on it but something fell through and he never was able to make the purchase. The school is maybe 15 ft wide by 40 ft long. It’s really small. I used a Nitecore LA30 to illuminate the inside of the school. The image is a blend of 2 shots. keeping the camera in the exact same position I did one long exposure for the star trails and then a short exposure for the points of light stars. I simply used a blending mode in Photoshop and changed the opacity to blend the long exposure with the short exposure so that you can see both in the sky. I masked out the foreground so that only the long exposure for the school shows. This allows me to keep image quality at it’s best.

Train Station Tuesday
Train Station Tuesdays, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

I don’t venture down into the city too often. After some good snow and a warming up it’s easy to find puddles to shoot unique perspectives. It has been a while since I visited Union Station and I remember that the concrete wasn’t level. This means that pools of water form. With no wind it makes it easy to get some fun shots. Here I had the camera sitting on the ground behind held up by my L-Bracket. Using a Sigma 14mm lens really let me get quite a bit in the shot even though I was so close. The lens is really only an inch or 2 off the ground from the water.

Morning Mass in the fog
Morning Mass in the fog, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

Weather, in my opinion, is the most important factor in photography. It can be a make it or break it kind of thing. It can also give you images you never imagined you would get. Thus being the case here. My plan was to shoot this old church (1913) with the Milky Way rising up in front of it. The way it faces, I would need to shoot it from the backside. I arrived here early afternoon, met with the guy who owns the farm next to it. He was leaving for the day and I told him I would probably be out there shooting all night and that if he saw some lights, not to be alarmed, it would just be me. About 10pm I started shooting. I was doing star trails, shooting Orion, the Big dipper and getting pretty excited for the Milky Way that was going to be coming up around 5am. At 2am I hopped back in my Jeep to warm up and grab a quick nap. When I woke up at 4am I could not see any stars….I was puzzled..I turned my lights on and it was solid fog. I thought to myself, “well, hopefully it will go away in time”.  That was not the case. The fog began to freeze on everything (hoar frost). I soon realized that not only was I not going to shoot the Milky Way, I also wasn’t going to get a sunrise. About 6am it was light enough to get back out and shoot what I could. I actually really enjoyed the fog and the beautiful atmosphere it created. Living in Oregon I saw fog all the time. Since moving to Colorado almost 6 years ago, I rarely see it here…

Corn Stalk Tree Fog Color
Foggy Tree, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

I could have shot scenes like this all day long. If you follow me on either Facebook or Instagram you can see more of these foggy moody images in the near future. They are a nice change of pace from my normal stuff. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Iced
Iced, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

Last but not least…Boulder Canyon Falls recently opened back up to the public after being closed off. I am not sure what the reason was or for how long it was closed. I do know that in the 6 years I have lived in Colorado, I had not been to it. Odd because it’s only 31 miles from my house. Tony Lazzari and I decided to go check it out…The falls were half-frozen when we were there and I was able to find some intimate scenes like this that showed both the flowing water and the frozen water. Because the falls are in a canyon, the sun rarely hits on them directly this time of year. Getting a good exposure was very easy due to the flat lighting. The mist from the falls had frozen on the ground but being the cautious person I am, I decided to not get too close and chance falling in. I used my Sigma 24-105mm Art lens at 95mm to get closer to the falls and compose the shot. A shutter speed of only 1/4 second shows both movement and detail in the water while keeping the ice razor-sharp.

This brings all of you up to date on what’s been going on over the last 45 days… I am really trying to get out more, shoot more and just enjoy nature in all aspects that I can. Tonight a friend and I are headed out to find clear dark skies and possibly old abandoned buildings to shoot the stars over.  Give me a follow on social media, leave a comment about this blog as I would love to  hear from you.

What’s next?  I don’t have any set plans for the rest of this month. I’ll just keep and eye out on the weather and go where it takes me. Next month I will be spending 2 nights/3 days at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. I am very excited about this and thankful for the opportunity to see the night sky from a different vantage point. I am getting ideas on how and what I want to shoot while I am there and if the weather is good then I will be sharing those images with you as well as doing a separate blog post.

Send me blog post ideas if you have something specific you’d like to hear my thoughts on or a photographic process you’d like to see.

In April we will start our Night Photography Workshops for the 2019 season. We’d love to have you join us. This year we are adding Yellowstone to our list of events and we only have 1 spot left on that workshop.

2018 – Year In Review

As I look back on 2018 after having a full week to reflect, it’s hard for me to really put into words what 2018 meant to me. I was blessed to travel to Paris with my family in March and spend my daughter’s 11th birthday at Disneyland Paris. During the Summer I traveled through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, and all over Colorado. During the Fall I went to Iceland for 8 days with some friends. 2018 was simply filled with so many enjoyable moments and memories that there is really no way to put it all up here in a single blog post.  I asked my Facebook followers Facebook Fan Page if they would rather have me post my 10 best images or my favorite image from each month. They chose to have me do 1 from each month. While social media can be annoying sometimes, I still respect what my followers say and value their opinions.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I did creating them. With each image you will find camera exif data and a description of each one. Please note that while I am doing a lot more composite imaging these days for fun, I picked images that were either single exposures or focal length composites of real scenes. Each of the images I have picked to share with you are real images that you could see with your own eyes…Not, just something I came up with in my head.  I know there are a lot of people who are inspired by other photographers so I wanted to make sure I only shared images that you can create yourself, should you choose.

January

fire and ice 2
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/5th second

Chatfield Lake State Park is only a couple of miles from my home and more times than not, it’s my “go to” spot when I just need to get a quick photography fix. We had a pretty good cold snap and the lake froze completely. As Colorado weather would have it, the next few days were very warm and the ice started to break up due to winds and water movement. These big ice chunks were layering themselves along the shoreline. When I arrived at this part of the lake I was happy to find some nice pieces that made for a good foreground. Getting the camera down low with a nice 20mm Sigma wide-angle lens let me take it all in and still capture the great sunset in the sky.

February

frosted rox
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 64, F/8, 1/100th second

Roxborough State Park is another park that I am fairly close to. I love to shoot these slanted rock formations at various times of the year. I would rather be outside than sitting in my house. After a few hours of heavy snow I decided to go take a drive and see what I could find. I loved the soft trees against the jagged rocks that were fading away in the distance.  Temps were in the single digits and the wind was blowing fairly good. I used my Sigma 24-105 Art lens at 90mm to bring this scene in closer and fill the frame.

March

bogue sunrise
Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 200, F/16, 1/160th second

Bogue, Kansas, Population 136

This was my 2nd of 3 trips to Kansas in 2018 and both the 1st and 2nd were much more pleasurable than the 3rd. I am a huge fan of the small towns across America that didn’t make it. I find the people who live in these towns to be very kind and gracious. They tend to like to talk about the history of the town and what happened.  This old building on the corner was a small shop of some kind, possibly a car garage shop. As we were walking by I noticed the sun coming up on my right. I thought it would be neat if I could get the sun coming up through the tree. It wasn’t till I got home I realized I had also captured the reflection of the old grain silo in the front window. The Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art lens allowed me to get close to my subject and still capture all that I wanted in my scene without any extras.

April

magic in the mountains
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art – Sky, ISO 10K x 15 exposures at F/4, 15 seconds at 28mm – Mountain, ISO 100, F/4, 16 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park, Milky Way Over Longs Peak was sure a sight to see. I had just got home from a workshop in Moab and I called up a couple of friends to see if they wanted to do a midnight hike in the snow and freezing temps to this spot that overlooks Longs Peak. They agreed and we made some final plans and off we went. Hiking the 1 mile up here is fairly easy in the summer but not so much when the trail is mostly ice and you’re going uphill. We allowed extra time that we knew we would need. In hindsight the uphill wasn’t so bad compared to coming back down. One friend slipped and almost went over the edge. We were able to get him up to safety and past the sketchy part of the trail. There are only about 45 days of the year that this image is possible when the Milky Way is right over Longs Peak. If you take into consideration things like work schedules, weather, and moonlight, realistically for most people this view is only seen for about 7 days total. I’ve seen this shot without any snow and I have seen it shot one time right after a big fresh snow…This image takes advantage of a setting moon which creates the shadow under Longs Peak.  I used a Tiffen Double Fog Filter at the time of capture to enhance the stars in the image.

This image is a combo of a blend and stack where I simply used 2 focal lengths and exposure times. Both images capture with the Sigma Corporation of America 24-105 Art Lens.
Sky – 15 exposures, ISO 10,000, F4, 15 seconds each at 28mm stacked to reduce noise. 
Mountain – 1 single 16 min exposure at 42mm, ISO 100, F4,

May

twisted universe
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 6400, F/2.8, 20 seconds

Moab, Utah.

This big, beautiful old tree lines up perfectly with the Milky Way in April and May. It’s one of the places we love to take our workshop students who enjoy the tree as much as we do. Moab is known for having some of the darkest skies in the USA and it’s one of the reasons we love teaching there. Depending on exactly where you stand to shoot this tree it can take on many different looks. Having the Milky Way as a backdrop isn’t bad though!

June

milky way thermal pools
Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 15 seconds

Yellowstone National Park

My daughter and I did a 3500 mile road trip from Colorado up to Yellowstone and then back down into Kansas. We enjoyed all the sights, animals and even visited the geographic center of the USA (more my bucket list item than hers). During the day we would explore and see the attractions but at night it was my time to do my thing.  Seeing these thermal pools in the day was great and I am glad I got to experience it with her. At night when all the people returned to their hotels, I could get out and shoot. Very peaceful at night with a faint bubbling sound of the thermal pools. I really enjoyed shooting this image as our nearest neighbor, Andromeda, rose up behind the trees. It was a beautiful night in a beautiful park.

July

hug point mist (1)
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 64, F/9, 30 seconds

Hug Point, Oregon

Heavy mist and fog can do amazing and crazy things to the visual surroundings you see. The fog was laying on the beach like a first time tourist to the tropics. It just wouldn’t go away. The Sun was getting lower and lower and everything was this odd grey/silver color when all the sudden everything lit up. I looked to my left and saw there was a small break in the fog that the sun was coming through. It was more like the sun was shining through a thin layer of fog, not really a break. I scrambled around and found this composition and began shooting. The light lasted a couple of minutes and was gone.  Having lived on the Oregon Coast for many years, I really feel that this image summarizes what the Oregon Coast is all about. Hazy, Foggy, some sun, damp and yet extremely refreshing.

August

mountianous majesty
Nikon D810 Mountain -ISO 64, F/2.5, Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art, 30 min exposure. Sky – 20 images stacked, ISO 8000, F/2, 6 seconds, Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art

Mount Rainier National Park 

Finally able to check this off my bucket list and it feels good but I know I’ll be back to see it again. We were on the tail end of our 6 week journey through the Pacific Northwest. Many months earlier I had made plans with a friend to come up and shoot this scene with them. We were treated to a wonderful sunset before it got dark and the stars came out. We picked this location based on where the Milky Way would be as we knew we wanted to get it over the mountain. It was stunning!

This image uses 2 focal lengths to create a more natural (to what your eye sees) scene. The mountain was shot at 24mm and the sky at 50mm The human eye sees at roughly 50mm.

September

gullfoss mist
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 64, F/11, 0.3 seconds at 52mm

Iceland

Depending on where you are in Iceland, one of the biggest challenges can be shooting so that you don’t get other people in your shot. In the southern region there are more people simply because it’s closer to the capital, Reykjavik. Here at Gullfoss waterfall this was sure the case. Probably at least 1000 people here while we were here. What you can see here is all of them on both sides of me and up on the trail leading down to the falls. I loved the way the water was flowing over the falls and then the mist would shoot straight up along the rock walls into the air. I like to challenge myself when not so perfect situations present themselves. This was one of those times.

October

mountain waters
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 200, F/9, 1/30th second w/OS on at 105mm

Iceland

Our trip to Iceland spanned the last week of September into the first week of October. The first image I picked for October was a nice sunset with some wave action along the beach. After thinking about it for a while I realized it didn’t show the true Icelandic landscape. I wanted something that showed the more rugged side of the country as well as the changing weather. This image was shot near Snaefellsjokull National Park on the far west side of the island. As we rounded the corner of the road I knew I wanted to shoot this scene. I love the golden tones of the grasses and land while the snow-capped peaks rise up above. The waterfall looks like it’s coming out of nowhere and the little farm in the lower right corner really puts this into perspective.  One thing we noticed while driving around is that a lot of farms/homesteads were built near the bases of waterfalls so they could have fresh water. Yes, there are that many waterfalls in Iceland! They are everywhere.

November

reflected golds
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/50th second at 24mm

Moab, Utah may not be known for it fall colors but if you look in the right places you will find some nice groves of Cottonwood trees. I had just finished up a workshop and had some free time when I started hiking down this little muddy creek/canyon. The water was very still and made a beautiful reflection against the blue sky. Sitting here simply enjoying this moment was priceless. I’ll always remember these trees and look forward to my next visit when I can shoot them in another way!

December

comet 46p over stagecoach
Stagecoach – Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 6400, F/2.8, 15 seconds. Sky – Nikon D850, Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art at F/2, ISO 8000, 5 seconds. 

At the end of the year, Comet 46p graced us with its presence. It wasn’t an epic comet with a big long tail like others before it, it was just a nice green dot in the sky letting us know we are not alone. At only 3/4 of a mile across and 7.2 million miles from Earth, it’s amazing that it shows up this bright. This comet is ONLY 3 laps around a track wide. That’s not very big in the grand scheme of things when you think that Jupiter could hold 1300 Earths. What a great experience for those who go to see Comet 46p to finish of the year. This image was taken behind an old stagecoach building in rural Colorado on Dec 7th, 2018.

 

2019 should be a year of just as much fun. I have a lot planned this year and tomorrow I am starting the year off right with a trip to the Oregon Coast. I look forward to catching up with everyone soon and please feel free to contact me directly using the form below.

I hope you find these links helpful.

Darren White Photography

Sigma Lenses – See these amazing high quality lenses and all their info

Night Photography Workshops in Colorado, Yellowstone, and Moab, Utah – Take your night photography to the next level and beyond.

Nitecore Lights for all your needs – The only lights I trust while out playing in the dark.

 

What images are people buying??

This is a topic that comes up a lot in my circle of photographer friends who sell their work. We often discuss our latest sales, how we got the sales and our frustration with how social media has changed over the years in restricting our reach to our fans and followers. That’s the biggest reason I am writing this as a blog post and not just a post on social media.

I have been selling my work now for over 25 years. I have heard so many reasons why people buy prints/images and in those 25 years it always comes back to the same general reason, connecting with the image. On one level or another, people are more likely to buy images they can connect with. I would like to say that this sounds silly but the fact is, if you look around your home at the art you have hanging, chances are you connect with the art. Maybe you have been there, maybe it’s your own work.  I remember years ago I had a customer call me out of the blue asking to buy one of my Mount Hood images as a large print, she was from Minnesota and I asked her, “what made you decided to purchase that image?” and she said, “when I was in college I lived in Oregon and was on the Ski Patrol team on Mount Hood.”  It was that moment when I realized all the years before and now looking back, all the years after, people tend to buy images they connect with.

Of course, that’s not always the case. I would say it’s easily the case 98% of the time. There are some collectors out there who appreciate beautiful images just for the sake of having a nice statement piece in their home or office.  So without going on and on about this, let’s get to the images.  Below you will see the last 10 images that were purchased from me via my website. This does not include the images purchased via social media channels where I am actually putting the images in front of people. These are the images that people were actively searching for based on their own personal tastes.  Descriptions will be below each image.

Downtown Telluride
Nikon D810, ISO 64, Sigma 24-105 Art at 68mm, F/7.1, 1/500th sec

Downtown Telluride 

While on vacation with my family and doing some work for Madeline Resorts a few years ago, we decided to walk around downtown Telluride. We visited some coffee shops and an amazing bakery with warm fresh doughnuts. As we were walking back to the car I asked the family to stand on the corner and I would take their picture with this gorgeous view in the background. After taking their picture I stepped out into the street a little further and snapped this photograph. This image sat on my hard drive for a couple of years until one day I got a call from a guy asking about images of Telluride. He was building a vacation home and wanted some images of the local scenery.  I went back into my archives to pull this one up and make it ready for print. Once I uploaded it to my website, the first sale from this image came almost instantaneously. I was shocked because I hadn’t even sent the guy the link.  This image has sold 2 times in the last week and many more times before that. Had it not been for the guy calling me asking about Telluride, I don’t think I would have ever put this on my website.

Mayflower Milkyway
Foreground – Nikon D810, ISO 100, F/8, 1/50th sec, Sigma 24-105 Art at 32mm – Sky – 3200 ISO, F/2.8, 20 seconds

Mayflower Milky Way

Near Leadville, Colorado, Mayflower Gulch is a popular hiking spot in the summer and just as popular in the winter for snowshoeing. This image was made in the summer after my first winter hike. I was really impressed with this area and knew I wanted to come back for another, but not my last, visit.  Having been here at night on my first trip and knowing the direction of the Milky Way from this vantage point helped me create this image that is of a real scene. I used a sunrise image for the foreground and then blended in the Milky Way into its actual position to create this final image. This is the first cabin you come to once you are out of the trees. The area opens up into this gorgeous valley below these peaks. The mountain you see here is Fletcher Mountain.

Sunrise over Nubble Light
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105 Art at 24mm, ISO 100, F/7.1, 30 seconds

Sunrise over Nubble Light

Located in York, ME, this popular location provides a beautiful view of the Nubble lighthouse out on its own island. During my trip to Maine in November 2015 I drove all along the coast up to Lubec which borders Canada. I truly enjoyed my time seeing the eastern coastline and all the lighthouses. The Nubble Lighthouse you see here was where I saw most people spend the most time. People were sitting on the rocks enjoying food and drinks while they also enjoyed the views. It was easy to see that this was a place people connected with. Being from the Oregon Coast, I love to watch the waves come in and out as they hit up against the rocks. I tried to shoot the night sky here but there were too many clouds so I just decided to wait till sunrise. My patience and lack of sleep paid off big time with this image.  As soon as I shot this image I knew it would be one for my website. I used a longer exposure to smooth out the water. Had the water been calm I would have used a shorter shutter speed to get the reflection of the sky in the water.

Multnomah Morning
Canon 5DMK2, ISO 800, F/8, 0.8 seconds, 17-40mm at 24mm

Multnomah Morning

By far, Oregon’s most popular waterfall. Multnomah Falls attracts over 2 million visitors a year from all over the planet. It’s a stunning place to visit no matter how many times you have been.  When I lived in Washington it was exactly a 43 minute drive in the morning without traffic. Often times I would get up early, drive there and wait in the parking lot till either I saw the first bit of light or the first person. I would then grab my gear and walk up to the falls. People often ask me how I get the images without the people on the bridge and the answer is simple, I’m the first one there. Being the first one there will give you a better chance at a great shot than being the last one there. With as popular as this place is, it’s no wonder that this image has been a good seller for me over the years. It’s a place so many people have been, but not many have been there without other people.

Denver Sunrise Pre Thanksgiving
Nikon D810, ISO 64, F/6.3, 30 seconds, Sigma 24-105 at 95mm

Denver Skyline Sunrise

Iconic view of the sunrise from Diamond Hill in Denver. This was Thanksgiving morning 2015. The photo is made up of several vertical images stitched together in Photoshop to create a very large panorama. The golden light of the city and the sunlit clouds behind the city have helped to make this a fairly popular image. Like most skyline images, this one does well with buyers from the Denver area or those who are from Colorado. It’s a very large image that can be printed over 9ft long if needed. This makes it great for offices with large conference rooms.

Saint Malo Nights
Canon 5DMK2, ISO 1600, F/2.2, 30 Seconds, 50mm

St. Malo Nights

Saint Malo or Chapel on the Rock is located about 20 miles south of Estes Park, Colorado, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Pope John Paul II visited in 1993. The Chapel was built-in the 1930s. I don’t know who the buyers were for this image but I would love to talk to them and hear why they purchased a nice 40″ wide metal print. My guess would be they have visited Estes Park or they have a connection to the Denver Archdiocese.

tree-fire
Canon 5DMK2, ISO 200, F/13, 1.3 seconds, 17-40mm at 17mm, Circ Pol filter

Tree Fire

Easily my most popular image, the famous maple tree in the Portland Japanese gardens, that I shot many years ago. Before I ever had a website this image was extremely popular with my followers on social media. I arrived early one morning in the pouring rain and there were 2 other people in front of me to shoot. They were both shooting while it was raining but just as they finished the rain let up and I was able to get a few shots without any water on my lens. This little tree is roughly only 6ft tall and ideally to get a shot similar to this you need to have your camera pointing in an upward direction. In the larger sized prints you can actually see the water drops still on some of the leaves.

2012-sedona
Canon 5DMK2, ISO 50, F/10, 1 second, 17-40mm at 17mm

Classic Sedona

Sedona, Arizona is well-known for its gorgeous red rocks. This is Red Rocks Crossing, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Having not been here before, I decided to arrive early for sunset. Upon arrival I found about 100 people lounging creek side, playing in the water and I knew I was going to have to get creative with my edits to remove the people from the images. About 30min before the sunset all the people left. It was like magic. I looked around to find I was the only one there. I had the whole place to myself. I took advantage of the solitude and was able to work some nice compositions with the flow of the water. This image came to be after I had a customer ask if I had any monochrome images from Sedona, otherwise this would have only been in color.

The Rising
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105 Art at 68mm, ISO 64, F/13, 1/250th second

The Rising

Early morning at Chatfield Lake State Park in Colorado. Outside temp was -9. What you can’t see in this image is the small pond of water just below the tree. The fog was lifting off the water as the sun came up. I tried to get down low enough for a reflection but that totally changed the position of the sun and fog. If I wanted the sun and rays to be shooting out from the tree I had to shoot from right here.

Oregon Coastal Mist
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm at 48mm, ISO 64, F/13, 1/15th second

Oregon Coast Mist

One of the beautiful overlooks from the north Oregon Coast. I loved the fog as the sunlight was hitting it. You can find this vantage point near the Octopus Tree on the opposite side the Cape Meares Lighthouse. I love being here both early in the morning and late afternoon. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has been to the Oregon coast has or will fall in love with it.  It’s a soul cleansing experience no matter what the weather is doing.  I grew up 8 miles from this spot and I have seen the best and worst weather. No matter the weather I always enjoy my time near the Ocean.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I know I don’t post often but I will continue to post when I have things I feel are worth reading. If you wish to purchase any of these or other images just simply click the titles to be directed to my website.

Holiday discount up to $50
Use Code ZXTALV 
When you shop at
www.darrenwhitephotography.com
Message me with questions or custom orders.

Save $100 on select Sigma Lenses when you use this link and visit their website http://bit.ly/2PszVMC

Often times as photographers we are our own worst critics. Of the hundreds of photographers I have talked to, it’s extremely rare that the images that are purchased from them are their favorite images. As photographers we simply see things differently, we know the amount of work that goes into making and image. I always love to see what others want to hang in their home and offices around the world and I thought these last 10 images that sold was a pretty good mix.

Please take a moment and subscribe to my blog so you are sure not to miss my top 10 of 2018 coming at the end of the month.

I wish you all an amazing holiday season!

 

Night Sky Panorama Photography

Delicate Arch Pano May2018
Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm ART, F/2.2, 20 seconds, ISO 6400

This will be a 3 part series on Night Sky Panoramas, Stacking and then ending with Stacked Panoramas for ultimate image quality. In this post I want to talk mostly about the fundamentals of shooting a night sky panorama.  Over the last 5 years I have worked with many people to help them bring their night photography to the next level and beyond. Once people learn the basics of night photography (focus and exposure in the dark) they often want to take it one step further and try a panorama. This is pretty exciting because it allows you to do a couple significant things. 1. Create larger file sizes – having a larger file size will reduce the appearance of visible noise in your image. Think of it like this, If you have a 35mm negative and try to enlarge it to a 40×60 inch print chances are it’s not gonna look the best. If you have an 8×10 sheet of film and enlarge it to a 40×60, it’s gonna look pretty dang good simply because you don’t have to enlarge it too much. Does that make sense?  Same goes for digital. If you have a 12mp camera (4000×3000 pixels) and you want to make a print that’s 40×30 you essentially have to cut your 300 dpi resolution down to 100dpi to get a print that size. If you have a 46mp camera(8256×5504 pixels) and want to make the same size print you can do so with 2x the resolution at 206dpi. A native print size from 46 mp is 18×27 at 300 dpi, from 12 mp is 10×13 inches. Creating a panorama with a file size of 18000×6000 with let you print a a 20×60 inch print with no loss of resolution. That’s crazy and fun!  I currently have a 39×117 print hanging up over my couch in our living room. It’s the larges print I have ever done. It’s made up of 7 vertical images stitched in Photoshop creating a 24089×7379 file that prints 25×80 inches at 300dpi. That being said, it would easily print 50×160 without any loss of detail.  “Colorado Winter Wonderland”

Colorado Winter Wonderland
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm @ 105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/200th sec – 7 vertical images

 

What does it take to create a good night sky panorama and what are important processes I need to keep in mind?

Camera Settings – When shooting panoramas it’s good to choose a specific color temp for your white balance. I really like something close to 3800K. This not only keeps the color in my images consistent but it also gives the sky a nice dark blue tone like it should have. Color Space should be set to Adobe RGB. Always shoot on RAW, turn off noise reduction for both the High ISO and Long Exposure.

  1. Once you’re in the field and set up in front of your scene, turn off all lights and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. In about 15 min you will be blown away at how much you can see. Unless you’re in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah, then you still wont see anything because it’s so dark!
  2. Look around, get familiar with the scene. Know where you want your panorama to begin and end. This is very important because you want to make sure you overshoot your corners and sides to allow for cropping when stitched together.
  3. Now that your eyes are adjusted you can turn your camera off, lens cap off and look through your viewfinder. Loosen your camera on your ball head and do a quick pan through to make sure the lens you have decided to use will include all the sky and the land that you want in your final image. This is crucial. For example, if you have a 20mm lens on and you notice that the top of the Milky Way is right at the top of the frame then chances are that you will want a wider lens or you may need to shoot 2 rows of images to make sure you include everything and a little extra.
  4. Take your test shot. Make sure you have your focus and exposure dialed in and your camera is level. Your tripod does not have to be level to have your camera level. This is something I see people struggle with all the time. You don’t want to spend all your time trying to perfectly level your tripod on uneven ground when all you need is your camera to be level. Most cameras have an internal level now which makes it very easy to create level images every single time! Almost no excuse for a tilted image anymore. The camera only needs to be level horizontally, not vertically. If the camera is level in each position of the panorama with the horizon you will not have any issues stitching your images together.
  5. Take a black frame. This will indicate the beginning of the sequence. You can do this with either your hand in front of the lens, lens cap on or just run your shutter speed down to about 1/10th second and snap one and then take it back up to your desired shutter speed for the pano.
  6. Remember you are aiming for 40% overlap. Take your first shot, turn the camera off, look though the viewfinder and move the camera accordingly. Turn the camera back on and shoot. I always start my panos on the left side…not sure why but that’s how I do it. So I take the right edge of the frame and move the camera until it’s just to the left of center. Level camera, tighten tripod and repeat. Do this until you have shot past what you want on the end of your pano.
  7. Take another black frame to indicate the end of the sequence. I have found this to be extremely helpful in eliminating trouble when processing. It’s a fool proof way to make sure you don’t include all your test shots into your stitching and have it come out not right.

img_2270.jpg

 

If you are working with a pano head on your tripod and don’t want to have to rely on looking through the viewfinder after each shot then I suggest you take note of how wide your field of view is for any particular lens. This chart below will help you so that all you need to do is shoot, move camera and shoot again. If you are using a 18mm lens on a full frame camera and your field of view is 100 degrees then you would simply need to move your camera 60 degrees to get a 40% overlap.

Angle-of-View-from-BandH

Below you will see an image I shot a couple years ago. I used my Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens to try and do a multiple row pano. As you can see I failed epically. There is no way I could make a straight image from this and keep all the content on the sides and top or bottom. This is a prime example of what NOT to do.

Tilted Pano

This image on the other hand is a prime example of what your pano should look like when you stitch it together. These collages are to give you a better visual understanding of not only overlap but also how level the images should be. As you can see, I have left enough room on the top, bottom and sides to allow for cropping. I used my Sigma 20mm to make sure I captured everything I needed.

Turret Collage

Final Cropped and Edited

Tpanny

If you have any questions please let them in the comments below and I will answer them for you as soon as possible.

Simplifying Night Photography

gear

As a night photography workshop instructor over the last 5 years I have seen a lot with our students. I have seen very happy students and I have seen, at times, very upset students. 99% of the time, if they are upset, it’s because they don’t know their gear well enough to work with it in the dark. This is not a bad thing, it’s just part of the learning experience.

I am writing this today to help ease some of that frustration. I am writing this to help ease some anxiety you may have because you want to get into night photography but at the same time you are scared you don’t have the correct gear.

Today I am going to tell you exactly what you need. That’s it…I run a no BS approach to photography. I wont sugar coat things, I wont say they are OK if they are not. Why accept somethings that’s OK only to get home and find out that it’s not. Unacceptable.

YOU ONLY NEED 3 things, 2 really, to begin your quest as a night photographer.

  • Digital Camera  with at least an F/4 lens.
  • Tripod – Med sized to full size will work fine
  • Remote cord – Optional

Surprised?  I thought so. Let me explain

Camera and Lens – This is where you will adjust your settings and capture your images. You don’t need a 40 or 50mp camera to get good night images. You simply need a camera. Any camera that can expose for 30 seconds will do the trick as long as your lens is F4 or faster, this means that it could be a 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4 lens. If you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money get an F4 or 2.8 as they will work just fine to capture images. I use an F4 lens for some of my work and have no issues. I also use a 1.4 sometimes.

Tripod – This is what holds your camera steady while your shutter is open. I suggest a tripod that does not have toothpicks for legs… Really, you think your camera will hold still on toothpick legs, it wont! If you do have a tripod that has very thin legs then I would simply suggest that you do not extend them and shoot with the legs fully collapsed and close to the ground to hold the camera as steady as possible.

Remote Cord – Optional – Why optional? Because your camera has a shutter button that you can, believe it or not, press down with your finger or thumb if you like. Seriously, it works, try it. If your camera is on a stead tripod and the tripod is tightened down so that the camera does not move then yes, it’s ok to use your finger to press the shutter. I personally like the remote cords that connect directly to your camera and not the wireless ones. Why? I have never seen anyone have issues with a remote cord that connects directly to the camera. I see people all the time fuss about because their shutters are not going off because they can’t get their wireless remotes to work. I have also seen a lot of people who try to program their intervalometers on their remote cords even when they have a camera that can do exactly what they are trying to do. If the camera can do it, let it do it. Unless you have a very specific need and need to take a long series of images that are over 30 seconds each you do not need an intervalometer. You can simply set your camera to any exposure time 30 seconds or less and press the shutter on the remote cord or camera and it will take the image. If you need to take a series of back to back shots just change the setting on your camera to continuous mode and press and lock the remote cord button. It will now take as many images as you like until your memory card is full or you release the shutter.

Let’s review.

You need a digital camera that will allow for exposures up to 30 seconds long.

You need a tripod to hold your camera steady

You need a remote cord if you wish to take back to back images for a series.

 

DO NOT get caught up in the gear game. You simply don’t need that much stuff. So now you’re looking around your room thinking, hmm, I have a camera, I have a tripod and he said I really don’t need a remote cord so I think I’ll go see if I can take some pictures of the night sky or even a city skyline at night.

Pro Tip – Set your camera on Manual mode, change your ISO to 6400, set your lens to the widest it will go, ie, 2.8, 4 or 1.4, set your shutter speed(exposure time) to 30 seconds and shoot. These are starter settings. If the image is too bright then you can cut your exposure time or ISO down.  For information on how to focus in the dark please visit our website at www.nightphotographyworkshop.com

Improve Your Landscape Photos With These Simple Tips.

When I started landscape photography back in 1988-89 I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I liked taking pictures, I liked seeing the images printed and I liked doing the printing.

Almost (99%) of what I know today is self-taught/trial and error and trust me…more error than I would care to admit. The people I shoot with can attest to my mishaps, mistakes and poor judgement in the field when shooting on my own and that’s what makes going out with friends fun.

Over the years I have picked up a few tips and trick along the way that have really improved my being able to capture good images in the camera. When I was younger, think 10/11 years old I would hold up my hands with my thumbs touching and fingers pointing up to isolate a scene that I thought looked nice. By doing so I could get rid of the elements that did not compliment the scene and while I did not know this at the time it has helped me to “see” better. People say that artists have an “eye” for things. This simply means that we see the beauty in something that others see as mundane, chaotic or ugly. By picking out certain little things from a bigger picture and composing so that only the good or beauty shows through our images.

I get asked all the time by people around the world who want to know the exif data of my images. While this question is very vague in terms of the desired outcome of an image, I gladly share. I will explain this a little more later on.

I have put together a little list things you need to help take a great landscape photograph.

  • DSLR Camera – Mirrorless Hi Res Camera
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Great Lenses – This really applies if you are printing your work
  • Patience
  • Good Light
  • Good Composition
  • Good Exposure

Today’s cameras really aren’t the issues behind bad images. Most of the newer cameras take great pictures and it doesn’t matter if it’s a crop sensor or a full frame, they all do a good job. The bigger issues lie with the rest of the list as I will explain.

Having a sturdy tripod may sound like common sense to most people but everyone defines “sturdy” as something different. I live in a very realistic world when talking and teaching photography. Companies I consider to have sturdy, solid tripods are Induro (that’s what I use) Really Right Stuff and Feisol. Ninety percent of all the photographers I know use one of these three brands… A few I know use Gtizo but not many. There is value when purchasing a tripod and in all honestly I see no need to spend upwards of $1000 for a tripod when you can get the same quality and sturdiness from a different brand.. I personally feel that $500 will get you and awesome tripod that will work wonders for your landscape photography. I don’t see any need to pay more. Chances are if your tripod has thin legs or comes in a fancy color, it’s safe to say that it’s not the best choice for doing landscape work. Investing in a sturdy tripod is the first step to getting good sharp images. One question I do get asked is this, “What if my lens has VR, IS or OS” all of which are intended to prevent blur from handholding your camera. This is all fine and dandy until you forget to turn it on or have it on but need a shutter speed that’s slower than what the lens will work with. Too many times I have just went out shooting casually and forgot to turn it on only to get home and find a bunch of blurry images..and no matter how long you keep a blurry image, it will never get any sharper. That’s a fact you can take to your grave.

What could be more critical to your work as a photographer than the glass the light passes though before it hits your sensor. If you are using a kit lens that came with your camera I highly recommend you purchase a different lens…  I used a 18-70 kit lens on my Nikon D70 for 2 years before I purchased a different lens and I can’t tell you happy I was even way back then. Lenses have come a long way since the days of 6mp cameras and with the High Res cameras we have today we NEED lenses that will give us the full resolution that our cameras can provide. Many of you know that I am a Sigma lens ambassador and have been officially for a couple of years. My first Sigma Art lens I purchased was when I got my D810 in 2015, it was the 24-105 F4 and I was blown away. After my first outing with the lens and getting the images back on the computer screen I thought someone had performed Lasik on me. I could not believe all the detail I was seeing. Images were razor-sharp and looked stunning… I don’t put my name with a company that I don’t believe in 100%. There is good reason why all my lenses are Sigma now. While I can’t recommend the Sigma 24-105 enough, the point of this is to ditch the kit lens, get something with an F4 or faster, if the zoom range is too wide like 18-300 then forget about that too. Be willing to spend a little money for a good lens.  You will thank yourself every time you go out shooting.

Now you have your camera, lens and tripod and you’re ready to go make some great images. This next time is by far my weakness when it comes to shooting great landscapes. Patience. I have never been a patient person, I don’t like to wait, I am an only child, I get bored easy but for great photographs we wait, and wait patiently for good light. Several years ago I flew into Flagstaff, AZ picked up my rental car and took off for Grand Falls (google it) I had been dying to see this place in person and knowing it was a long bumpy gravel road I gave myself lots of time to get there by sunset in case I got lost, had a flat tire ect… Well everything went perfect and I arrived there about 5 hours before sunset. It’s hot, I was in the middle of nowhere and in those 5 hours I only saw one other car and 2 naked people (that’s a whole other story) but dammit, I was there and I wasn’t going to miss the sunset. I came all the way for this one shot! So I waited, waited, waited, walked around, found a dog…found the naked people who owned the dog, did some more hiking and then finally….Little Colorado Sunset

Light is very crucial to landscape photography. Light creates depth, shadows, contrast and can be the difference between a good image and a fantastic image.

dayshot

These images were taken roughly 3 hours apart from each other and I think it’s safe to say that the top image is more appealing to most people. Just by having better light I was able to take the viewers focus away from the ugly brown pool of water and put more attention on the falls and the sky. Would you agree? As landscape photographers we have the ability to turn and ugly scene into something beautiful with just the right light.

Here are some various types of lighting I like to look for when shooting. The first is often during sunrise or sunset when the light is right on the horizon. This will allow to you get a naturally soft glow effect by placing the sun just out of the frame so that the light naturally bleeds in from the side.

Natural bleeding light

In the image above I am looking south, the sun is just ready to set and the light is all from just placing the sun outside my frame. This creates a naturally soft light on the scene you’re shooting.

I also like direct or isolated light. This is often times harder to find depending on the conditions. The image below was taken about an hour before sunset. The sun was setting behind me and because of the cloud cover behind me it was only allowing the sunlight to hit the front of this cloud as well as the small portion of the mountain. I liked how it kept the rest of the image dark. This adds a great deal of depth in the clouds as it goes from light to dark.

Isolated light direct light

Backlighting can be fun as well. It can make for nice silhouettes or light fringing around an object. In this example I was driving around Acadia National Park in Maine one early morning and these deer were in the shadow of some big trees while the sun was hitting the bushes behind them. This made for a nice backdrop for the deer. Had this scene been full shadow or full sun the outcome would have been totally different.

Backlight

Composition and composing can be one of the most difficult aspects of landscape photography. I have heard almost every photographer I know say, “I just can’t get my composition right”, at one point or another. Composition is a very mental part of this and we all go through some challenging times trying to find good compositions. Good compositions in landscape photography come from finding a good scene with a nice sky and a nice foreground. Don’t just point your camera up at the sunset sky with a tree in it and click the picture…Well, you can do that if you want but if you have a great sky that makes you want to photograph it, put a nice foreground in it to hold the viewer’s attention longer.  Some key elements to think about when composing an image-

  • Create visual interest – include foreground
  • Rule of 3rds
  • 50/50 reflections
  • diagonal Lines/Leading lines
  • Simplify/Negative Space

Leading Lines in the foreground

Creating visual interest, using a foreground and finding leading lines can usually all be combined into one. This image of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine does just that.. I have created interests throughout the image with the use of a big foreground with highly textured rock as leading lines that take your eye right up to the lighthouse. This image also uses the rule of 3rds as I have placed my subject in the upper left 3rd of the frame.

Clouds Water Offset

This is a non reflection shot that has what I like to call an X-Factor Comp to it. If you look at the water that is going down to the left and the cloud going up to the right, those combined make the / part of the X. The water coming over the rock in the lower right and the ridge line behind the tree in the upper left make the \ to form an X. This is a pretty common composition in landscape photography and one that’s worth paying attention to when you’re composing  your shot. Even if you don’t see the X you should see the clouds and the water mimic each other in reverse. It can also work with clouds and reflection shots as seen below.

Leading Lines X factor

Framing your subject when you can is important to keep the viewer’s attention in the image longer than usual. By framing your scene it doesn’t give the viewer’s eye an easy out, they have to want to look away. There are many ways to frame an image. Here are some examples.

Framing Example 1

The waterfall has been framed by the trees below, to the side and above. This keeps the eye moving around the image. The low fog helps as well by keeping the bright spots up top toned down.

Framing Example 2

Something as simple as the sun can be easily framed by an opening between 2 trees that are holding hands…..err branches.

Tunnel View

Naturally occurring frames like this cave entrance is a beautiful natural frame to the ocean landscape outside.

Balance

The 50/50 split works best in my opinion for reflection images. This is one time it’s ok to break the rule of 3rds rule.

Last but not least is exposure. Generally speaking if your image looks good to you on the back of your camera it’s not the best it can be. Using your histogram is the scientific way determine a good exposure. Even with today’s high-end cameras I still feel it’s important to expose to the right. This means taking your exposure as far as you can go to the right before you start to blow out your highlights. This helps to ensure better shadow detail, colors and tones and less noise in your image. An underexposed image will have more noise than a properly exposed image.. I am not talking about proper exposure based on your camera meter but proper exposure based on your histogram. They are 2 totally different things. This is really important if you are going to print your work. Anytime you shoot an image that’s underexposed and then try to bring up the shadows in post processing you create noise. Some cameras handle this better than others but it still happens.. By exposing to the right and getting more light in those shadow areas you will end up with a cleaner final image.

Exposed to the right

The image above is one of my RAW files with the histogram showing the data I collected. You may think this looks like crap and you are correct. By shooting this far to the right I was able to collect all the data I need to properly process the image. Nothing in this image is blown out and no shadows are clipped. Are you looking at the sky and thinking this is a total wash? Where are the details in the clouds or the water for that matter? Well, by bringing your exposures DOWN in your RAW converter you will get a much better image than if you are always pushing them UP.  By bringing them down we are simply darkening the info we already have. If you are pushing them up, you are trying to create data in pixels that were not properly exposed to begin with.

Tidal Cleansing RAW edit

As you can see, the colors, tones, shadows, and highlights are all in check here and this is only with the adjustments I made using the RAW converter. I haven’t even finished processing it yet. You will see that image a bit later on.

If you’re new to Exposing to the right, take a few shots like this the next time you’re out and work on processing them to see what you think. It works for every scene. The key is to watch your histogram and only expose just until you see a very tiny portion of the image blown out, like a cloud highlight. If you are shooting with an older camera the benefit will be much more noticeable.

Focus and Live View – I highly recommend that if you are using a tripod and taking the time to set up a great shot that you also take the time to use Live View and focus manually. I know this may sound silly since our cameras are amazing autofocus machines but it’s true. If you have spent the money on a great camera and great lens then why not make sure you get everything out of them you can. Even if your eyes are bad this will still work..  Set your camera on live view, zoom in to where you want to focus with the LCD zoom, not the lens zoom, then manually focus until the image is as sharp as it can be. If your eyes are bad use reading glasses or whatever helps you see up close. You can also use a loupe too to place right on the LCD to help you see better.

Things to keep in mind

  • Always shoot in RAW format
  • Always shoot in Adobe RGB color space
  • Use the lowest ISO possible/Native ISO
  • Use a sturdy tripod
  • Be willing to spend a some money on good lenses
  • Take your time – Wait for the right light
  • Include a foreground – give the viewer a sense of being there
  • Expose to the right – Collect more data to work with
  • Use Live View to focus manually
  • Leave no trace

 

Thank you for visiting. If you have any questions or comments please free to send them my way and I will respond in a timely manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 – My Photography Year in Review

What a year! 

This year has been filled with ups and downs like most any year. I started off 2017 standing on the beach in Southern Oregon, the same way I ended 2016. Oregon is my forever home in my heart and soul. You will see some images from Oregon in this blog post. Everything was going well until Aug 11th when I tore my right calf muscle and couldn’t walk. This really puts a damper on outdoor photography. I started PT a few days after it happened and had a walking boot to help me walk.  Due to this injury I had to cancel a workshop in the Tetons which was a real bummer not only for me but for my clients who were coming from Austria. Through emails I was able to guide them into the right places at the right times for what they were looking to shoot. They also came over for the event of the year, the eclipse!  It was great to see the great images they were able to capture and I am looking forward to working with them again in Utah this year!

Summers keep me busy with night photography workshops in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, teaching students of all skill levels everything they could want to know about night photography. I work with Mike Berenson on these workshops to help provide the ultimate experience for our students. In fact, this year in Moab, Utah during our workshop in May our 12 students were treated to seeing the Northern Lights while we were at Delicate Arch! Yes, you read that correctly. One of our students called it, “an experience of a lifetime.”

Also this summer my daughter and I spent a good amount of time traveling in Oregon as well as Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. In one week we drove all the way across the USA from Tillamook, OR to St. Simon Island, GA. It was a great trip. I also took a solo road trip from Lititz, PA to Littleton, CO going through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. Sadly enough the latter trip was done while I had my walking boot on so it made getting out and doing any hiking a real challenge…I did find a place in Ohio that has a nice waterfall that I would like to get back to. Honey Run Falls located in Howard, OH really looked like a gorgeous place. Unfortunately there was barely any water running down the rocks when I was there. So, it goes on the list of places to visit again with better conditions. I like to take the backroads and stay off the freeways when I travel, this brought me to a small town called Urbana, OH which really looked like a neat town…not neat meaning a big booming metropolis but a small homey feel. Urbana was laid out in 1805 and in 1812 was the headquarters for the Northwestern Army during the war of 1812. I did not get a chance to photograph here due to the pouring rain but it will go on the “to see” list as well.

I know, I know, let’s get to the images already, right?  That’s what you really came here to see. We will get there in just a second or you can just scroll down but you should read this part first.

In picking out the 12-13 images for this blog post I like to do something a bit different. Instead of just posting my “Top 10” from the year, I like to pick the best/favorite image from each month of the year. Otherwise, truth be told, you would just see 8 images from Oregon and 2 Milky Way images….Boring right! So, by doing this it forces me to get out and shoot at all times of the year.

Last but not least I would like to take a minute to thank a few people/companies for their continued support and I recommend you check them out for your own benefit if you find that they may be relative to what you do.

Sigma Lenses – I have been a Sigma Ambassador for about a year and all the images I shot this year were with Sigma Lenses. Absolute quality and craftsmanship.

Moab Fine Art Papers – I print 90% of my work on their fine art papers. I love the feel, look and colors these papers provide. Clients and Students have been very pleased with these papers as well.

Englewood Camera – I have spent the last 2 years building a great working relationship with this local camera shop. They have a full service lab and they do all my printing for my 18 and 20 inch fine art prints. They have everything you could need from a local camera store.

American  Frame – Custom printing and framing at great prices. I have been working with American Frame for about 3 years now and not only is their customer service second to none, also the quality of their work. American Frame provides many paper choices to perfectly fit the needs of any photography as well as unlimited choices for matting and framing. Over the years I have sent many friends to American Frame for their framing needs and everyone has been very very happy. You will be too.  I use American Frame for all my fine art prints 20″ and larger.

Artbeat Studios – I have nothing but good things to say about the Metal and Acrylic prints that come from Artbeat Studios. Not only do my clients love the quality, I do too. That is why I have several acrylics printed by Artbeat Studios hanging in my own home.

Reed Art and Imaging – Again, their work and attention to detail is amazing. They do a lot of various types of printing on various mediums. I have had a lot of Gallery Mounts done by Reed. Not only for myself but also for clients I work with to help them create their own masterpieces from their own images. Their team of printers and salespeople are great to work with and make you feel like you’re part of their team.

Overleaf Lodge and Spa – Located in Yachats, Oregon this is simply the finest lodging you can find with the best views and access to the beach and Ocean.. The Overleaf Lodge was a fantastic place to host my 2017 Oregon Coast Winter Workshop in December. Their staff was always kind and gracious and when I left my room key in my room and could not get in at midnight, they came to open the doors right away. Wine tastings, ocean views, a spa, and a small gallery. This is the place to be on the Oregon Coast!

Mike Berenson – I have been working with Mike now for almost 5 years doing Night Photography Workshops Mike captures amazing images that really make you feel like you’re there. Please visit his site and check out his work. It’s one of the reason I was so willing to team up with him to start Night Photography Workshop. His work has inspired me and it will inspire you too.

One more thing to note about these images. Aside from the panorama all photographs posted here are all single images, no crazy blends or photoshop. I wanted this to be more about my photography and not about my artistic abilities with software. Enjoy!

January

Oregon Islands Sunrise

Oregon Island Sunrise – Jan 1, 2017 – After a great sunset to end 2016 the clouds moved in as well as the rains. I went back up to my hotel room thinking that I may get to sleep in for the new year. Who was I kidding? Even if it was raining I would have went out onto the beach, it’s who I am.  Lucky for me the clouds were breaking up about an hour or so before sunrise. I walked to the north end of the beach, the lesser photographed section of Bandon Beach, to find this great reflection on an incoming tide. I was fascinated with the way the light was hitting the clouds and reflecting off the wet sand.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, ISO 64, F/16, 1 second.

February

Train To Denver

Train To Denver – Feb 12, 2017 – Downtown Denver near Colfax. Travelers wait for the next train heading into Denver. This image was shot and shared at the Lone Tree Photo Club exhibition night. The elements of this image that made it work well for me were the contrast between moving objects and stationary objects. Each of the 5 people in the image are doing something different all in a single frame. The person on the far left looking towards the city made me feel as if he or she were dreaming of something bigger.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 82mm, F/6.3, ISO 200, 2.5 seconds.

 March 

Jackson Lake Sunset

Jackson Lake Sunset – March 5th, 2017 – After seeing this location on the map I knew it had epic potential for a full Milky Way Panorama. Since the Milky Way is still very low on the horizon this time of year I set out to capture what I had envisioned. As I arrived at the lake I realized right away that the Milky Way shot wasn’t going to happen on this night. With the still of the lake and the gorgeous clouds reflecting in the water I waited around for sunset. I have since went back to the lake for night shooting only to find out there is a huge floodlight on the dock that will interfere with any night shooting from this location. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/8, ISO 64, 1/80th second.

April

Earth Day Visitors

Earth Day Visitors – April 22, 2017 – We always kick off our Night Photography Workshop season in Arches National Park for good reasons. The position of the Milky Way is in a great location for doing all kinds of different styles of night photography. It’s very good for single images but even better if you are looking to make nice panoramas. We had just left Double Arch and walked over to the Windows area. As our group was getting set up I decided to set my camera down and snap an image of them in the window of the arch. I only took this one shot and when I looked on the back of the camera I was very surprised to see the shooting star… I called out to my friend, Hal Mitzenmacher who was in our group, “hey Hal, you gotta see this!” I had to show someone so they would believe me when I said it was just captured in a single image. Even though this image was taken during the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower, to capture it in the first frame after setting my camera down was pretty amazing. Sigma 20mm, F/3.2, ISO 1600, 13 seconds.

May

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch – May 28th, 2017, 2:28am – More often than not we like to save Delicate Arch for the final night of our workshops. We were on the final night of a sold out Arches and Canyonlands workshop when our students began packing up ready to make the hike back down in the dark.  As they were packing up I decided to do a real quick pano of the Milky Way over the Arch. Starting on the north side I snapped an image and my jaw dropped… I abandoned the pano idea for a second and took another shot to confirm what I was seeing. Sure enough we had northern lights in Moab, Utah. I yelled to the group, very loudly even though we were all right there together, “Get your cameras out and start shooting to the north, we have Aurora activity!” This completely changed the mood of the group from being ready to call it a night to getting that epic shot that would make all others pale in comparison from this location. Needless to say we ended up letting the group shoot for about an hour longer while the Northern Lights did their thing. A moment of my photography career I will never forget. My adrenaline was running so fast that I forgot to take the lower row of images for the foreground. 8 images stitched together with the following settings. Sigma 20mm, F/2, ISO 6400, 15 seconds.

June

Flowers by the Stream

Flowers By the Stream – June 13th, 2017 – I always get up early, arrive early, sometimes annoyingly early. I once, many years ago, arrived 13 hours early to pick up someone from the airport. This shot happened because I got up early. I was headed up to Eldora, Colorado to go hiking and search for waterfalls. Waterfalls in Colorado? Yep, there are a few. As I was driving up the road to the trailhead I noticed all these yellow flowers along the bank of the stream and thought that would make a cool shot. I quickly hit the breaks, my daughter woke up from her slumber and I turned the jeep around. When I got out I noticed there was no wind but the sun was quickly rising and in a couple of minutes this entire scene would be completely blown out by the sunlight. Another reason to get up early is because the light is better right before sunrise. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/18, ISO 64, 0.6 seconds.

July

Sands of Time

Sands of Time – July 9th, 2017 – Being born and raised on the Oregon Coast and traveling up and down it many many times in my life, I like to think that I have seen most all the places that have access. I grew up roughly 15 miles from this location and have driven by it probably 1000 or more times but never actually got on the beach to see it. You can’t see it from your car on the road.  While my daughter and I were in Oregon this summer I decided to make a point of visiting this particular location, Twin Rocks, Oregon. I don’t know why they call it, “Twin Rocks”, they look nothing alike, nonetheless, my daughter and I went out in the early afternoon to enjoy and explore this area. The beach is quite large and open without a lot in the water except these 2 rocks. It was a very windy day and these ripples in the sand were just calling me to photograph them. I waited until the Sun was just on the horizon so that the light would create some nice shadows to help bring out texture and depth to my foreground. While not the most exciting beach, I only saw 1 other person here, it’s one I will visit again for sure. Sigma 24-105mm @ 28mm, F/18, ISO 31, 75 seconds.

August

Eye of the Eclipse Final

Eye of the Eclipse – August 21, 2017 – A day many of us around our nation will never forget. I had high hopes of going up into Wyoming to capture the eclipse in the path of totality. That dream was sent down the drain when 10 days prior I tore my right calf muscle. Still being at the initial stages of my injury I decided to not go fight the crowds, not drive the 3+ hours (it’s impossible to drive safe with a walking boot on your right leg) and take the chance of causing a wreck for a view of the total eclipse. I stayed home, sat out on our deck and just watch as we saw the moon cover the sun at 93%. The sky was clear just before the eclipse started and very slowly a thin layer of clouds started to form almost in rhythm with the moon covering the sun. As we, in Denver, approached maximum coverage these iridescent clouds began to form. Lunar Halo or Fire Rainbows were appearing around the moon and sun. Since I was looking almost straight up I was lucky enough to see this almost perfect circle around the moon and sun. While I did not get the epic shot of the total eclipse, I was quite happy with what I did capture and experience.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 105mm, F/7.1, ISO 200, 1/20th second.

September

Storm Landing

Storm Landing – September 16th, 2017 – I always arrive to our workshop location a day or so early to see if there is any special area that needs the attention of our workshop student’s cameras. Just my luck that it was pouring down rain in Jackson, Wyoming when I pulled into town.  I decided to head north to Yellowstone to see how much snow they had up there. I am not sure exactly if this is in Grand Teton or Yellowstone or no mans land. I saw these very dark clouds hovering above this hill/mountain so I pulled over and walked down towards the water. I noticed a small area of light hitting the hillside and started shooting. The light area got bigger and bigger to what you see here. As I was shooting, these geese (I think they are geese) flew into my frame and landed. I was very lucky to capture them just before they landed. It wasn’t something I had planned on shooting but a nice added element to the overall image. Sigma 24-105mm @ 75mm, F/9, ISO 64, 1/160th second.

October

RM ELK

Rocky Mountain Elk – October 7th, 2017 – The Rut is on! And that means everyone with a camera is up in Rocky Mountain National Park to get a shot of these big boys. On this particular day I saw people taking pictures with any device that had a camera in it. They say, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” There is a lot of truth to that. I had kinda been watching this guy pretty close and moving in the direction he was moving so that if he stopped and looked my way I could get a good shot of him. He had left his group and walked over to the trees when something caught his attention, he stopped, turned and looked for about 3 seconds and then continued walking. Eventually he went behind some trees and disappeared out of sight. I felt lucky to have him in the shadow with even light. Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary @ 600mm, F/6.3, ISO 1600, 1/80th second.

Winter Road

Winter Road – October 3rd, 2017 – This is not a mistake. Yes, you get 2 images from October. October is a very special month for many people. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Halloween, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Everything, right?  Well, for us landscape photographers it’s a special month also. Here in Colorado our Fall colors usually peak in the first week up in the mountains and we start getting some snowfall too. When you mix Fall colors with fresh snow something magical happens. I can’t put my finger on it but I can put my shutter finger on the camera and capture it. It’s the way the seasons combine to create a beautifully unique landscape. This road has lots of “no parking” signs on the side but since I stayed in my lane I don’t consider it parking. I never turned the Jeep off and I was only out of it for a few clicks of the shutter. When I see this image I feel something that awakens my soul. Even though it has a road in it, I feel free in the fresh mountain air. Sigma 24-105mm @ 32mm, F/7.1, ISO 64, 1/400th second.

November

Tunnel View

Tunnel View – November 19th, 2017 – Every since I was a very small child I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. While we may not know those reasons for days, months or years later I have just accepted what happens and went with it.. My plan was visit my dad in Oregon in December when I was out there for my workshop. After checking schedules I realized that I would not have enough time to see him in December so I booked a trip out for 5 days in November. Usually November along the Oregon Coast can be a very challenging time since the weather is less than optimal for photography. One morning while my dad was out in the ocean fishing I decided to go see about getting this shot.  Having this as my “home beach” while growing up I had been alive long enough to remember when this tunnel was closed up, opened back up and the day I almost died just outside this tunnel by a massive sneaker wave. Just ask Gary Randall he’ll tell you all about it… I had been through this tunnel hundreds of times and always enjoyed this view as I was headed out. On the morning I took this image I entered the tunnel, turned on my Nitecore flashlight because it’s pretty dark in there and you don’t want to hit your head on the rocks hanging down inside. I turned on my light, walked about 10 feet and noticed something sitting on a rock surrounded by water. I looked closer to realize it was a $20 bill. I looked ahead of me and I looked behind me to make sure no one else was looking for it. I did not see anyone else at all so I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I was as happy as a clam in saltwater. I went about my morning shooting in a great mood when all the sudden I realized one of my filters wasn’t in my bag. I went into panic mode. I could not find my Tiffen double fog filter anywhere. This isn’t just your average run of the mill filter. They run over $300. Suddenly finding $20 wasn’t as exciting when thinking I was going to need to spend $300 to replace the filter… I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. Upset that I had lost the filter I decided to cut my morning shoot short. I had already got the shot I was ultimately after but I was still bummed. Still looking for the filter, hoping it had just fallen out of my bag, I retraced my steps along the waters edge. Thinking the worst, the water came up and the filter is out at sea I kept walking. I saw an empty beer bottle on the beach and picked it up, (when I lived in Oregon I did the S.O.L.V.E beach cleanup each year) thinking that Karma would play out… Still nothing. The filter was gone and the $20 means nothing to me now.. I get back up to the rental car, properly dispose of the beer bottle,  put my gear away in the trunk, open the car and get in and my filter is laying right there in the driver seat. A huge sigh of relief as only then I realized I had the filter in my pocket and it must have fallen out when I got out of the car. Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, F/14, ISO 64, 1/30th second.

December

Cape Perpetua Rush

Cape Perpetua Rush – December 7th, 2017 – One thing I always tell my students and I will tell you, If you are going to shoot moving water that is constantly changing, set your camera on continuous mode and shoot through the actions of the water. Then, when you are home you can pick the image that best captured the water how you like it. If you were to try and shoot the water as a specific moment, chances are you would not capture what you wanted. We, Chuck Rasco and I arrived in Portland, grabbed our rental cars and made a beeline for the coast. We knew we had only a short window of time to grab lunch since the sunset is early this time of year. Just as I had planned for the workshop, the proper tide and the timing of the sunset came together beautifully. Thor’s Well was rocking. It was at the right level where it wasn’t doing the Old Faithful geyser thing but just filling up nicely and spilling over. That is what you are seeing here. As Thor’s Well would fill up I would begin shooting until it was empty again. Of the 100’s of images I took this night, this was the only one where the water was exactly how I wanted it as it flowed up and over Thor’s Well. The reason I wanted it like this was because of how the sky looked. I wanted the water to mimic the clouds in the sky and chances are that isn’t something you can get on a single try. You don’t see many images with Thor’s Well completely filled up like this. It was a great ending to an adventurous year! Sigma 20mm, F/16, ISO 64, 1/4th second.

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions. Please feel free to use the contact form below to connect with me. You can also visit the Home Page and find links to where I am on the interwebs.  A big thanks to everyone for your continued support and joining with me to create lasting memories on these crazy adventures. All the best for 2018!

 

Compositing for Print Quality

We live in a world that is fast moving in both our daily lives and advances in photographic techniques. When I first started night photography I had 2 choices.

  • Shoot slow film and end up with star trails with no grain
  • Shoot fast film and get points of light stars with lots of grain

Now, with digital cameras, we can shoot both on one media card. Digital cameras have come a long way in recent years and you can get great night images in a single shot compared to even 5-7 yrs ago. Even with advances in camera sensors and processing, a single image still will produce noise which shows up when you try to print.

We have come up with some great ways to reduce noise in single images as well as using multiple images in a stacking process, but neither of these techniques yield the results that compositing can achieve.  I am not talking about creating fake scenes or fantasy worlds. I am, for now, simply talking about lining up a great scene using one of the many apps out there like TPE, Stellarium, or PhotoPills to create real images of real scenes that you can see with your own eyes…

Why do this?  Why go to all the trouble of planning, shooting, processing and compositing?  It takes time. I don’t want to sit on a computer all day. I wanna go shoot. So why do this….. The answer is simple… Print Quality is amazing, the light is better and the wow factor will blow your friends mind…  In all honesty, we all love when people ohh and ahh over our images…but for me, the real answer is the print quality. Being able to produce a great night image of the Milky Way in one my favorite places and print it up to 60″ wide or tall with hardly any visible noise is amazing!  Below I will show you the differences and the final results of single images, stacked images and a composite image.

Let’s begin. When I arrived in Badlands National Park I began using my apps to help line up great compositions where the Milky Way would be over some of the rock formations.  This is the Cedar Pass area. This image shows you exactly how the Milky Way looked just after the moon went down and the skies got dark. This is a SINGLE exposure of the night sky.

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Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 F2.0, 20 seconds at 3200 ISO

The image below is a 100% crop from the image above. No editing. You can see that this is showing some noise..Not too bad but enough I wouldn’t want to print over 18″ long

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This next image shows you the same image using 9 images to stack for noise reduction. I would show you the full image as well but because these are sized down images for the blog it wouldn’t really do any good.. So these 100% crops should tell you what you need to know. Now you can see the noise is reduced. When using image sequences to reduce noise an easy to factor in how much it will affect the image is by using square roots.. For example if you use 9 images you will get a factor of 3x noise reduction. If you use 16 images you will get a factor of 4x noise reduction. You don’t have to use exact numbers but I find it easier to figure the final outcome… If you are shooting at 3200 ISO and use 9 images for a NR factor of 3 you are now essentially creating an image with the noise of 800 ISO. If you were to use 16 images you would then be creating an image with the noise of a 400 ISO single image.. There are some limits but these are great factors to work with and the reduction in noise is quite nice. This kind of quality would allow me to print up to 30″ wide or tall with little noise.

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I want the BEST print quality possible…I don’t want to see noise in my night images… I want highly detailed, fantastic light, true color (yes the stars have their own colors) big printable images and this is where compositing comes in.

You arrive at your location, you line up your shot, check your tripod legs (I used to have a faulty one that would collapse on its own free will during my long exposures) and wait till that foreground light is just right. Yes, I am talking about shooting your foreground image at sunrise or sunset for the best possible light, lowest ISO for the absolute best print quality.  Now, depending on how long after you shoot does the Milky Way rise you can either leave your camera set up in the exact same spot..or, as I would do, pack it up, take a nap, then set it up once the Milky Way rises into the correct position.

Once the Milky Way is up you will now want to shoot a sequence of images, I like 16 images, 20 seconds, back to back. I just set my camera to continuous mode, press the shutter release and lock it.. I don’t use a timer or mirror lock up because I want the time between each image to be as short as possible. This helps the stacking software align the stars more precisely.  Let’s take a closer look at what just 9 images does when stacking for noise reduction in the night sky.  On the left you see a cleaner image while on the right you see a pretty noisy image. The image on the left is made of 9 separate images.  If you look right in the middle you can see the difference the most

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So now we have our beautiful foreground that was shot at ISO 64 and our stacked sky image that was shot at 3200 ISO with a noise level of ISO800 and now it’s time to make the magic happen. What I do is select the sky in the foreground image and delete it. I then bring my stacked sky into my foreground image and place it exactly where it should be. Remember, we are creating really scenes…not something that people will search their entire lives for a never find. Once I have my stacked sky in my foreground image I then edit them separately using layers and layer masks to make sure they work well together. This is a very important part of combining 2 images into 1.  I have seen so many images where people simply remove a sky and replace it but they don’t do anything with the foreground and it just looks like they pasted one on the other..I take much more pride in my work and make sure that it looks like one seamless image. Let’s take a look at what our starting point is for each of our images. The image on the left is the stacked image for the sky and the image on the left is the foreground image I will use… Now you will see the position of the Milky Way…

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Once again thank you PhotoPills for the amazing software and letting us be able to line up our perfect shots..  After combining the 2 images, doing basic edits on both layers to seamlessly blend them together I ended up with what I like to call my Pre Edit.  I have cropped, adjusted color, contrast and added a little depth to the image. While this may look drastic to some, it’s really very minor in terms of post processing abilities.

Pre Edit

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I then take my image into Nik Software Color Efex Pro for final adjustments using

  • Warmth/Brilliance
  • Classic Soft Focus
  • Lighten/darken center
  • Contrast Only

Once these adjustments are made I go back into Photoshop to create my master file, web file and print file. Before we take a look at the final image lets take a look at all 3 steps again side by side.

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Again we are doing all this work for the ultimate print quality. Printing big is something I take to heart and I want to make sure that you, as a client or customer, get the best quality possible. and Now let’s take a look at the final image. This is an image I would be happy to print without any hesitation whatsoever. It’s a real scene, anyone can see it on the right day of the year, you can get your own shot of this by only walking 10 feet from your car..I am not sending you on a wild goose chase.. One of the reasons I do photography is to inspire others to get outside and see the beautiful world we live in.

Final Resize

If you really take pride in your work, take the time to make sure your images are the best they can be. Cameras are only so good and while they produce amazing daytime images they can be lacking for nighttime images. We (most night photographers) make use of the software that is out there that allows us to go above and beyond the limitations of our cameras.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have or photography items you would like to discuss. I am attaching a contact form below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, you can find out more about my work and our night photography workshops when you visit

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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 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