2020 Year In Review

Enjoying a quiet moonlit night in the Snowy Range of Wyoming

This year was unlike any other I have experienced. The first 2.5 months were not so bad and I packed a lot of travel into a very short amount of time. Ending 2019 in Oregon for a couple weeks and being able to see my dad was a blessing. Mid Dec 2019 we were learning of what was happening in China, hoping it would stay there. That wasn’t the case. I arrived back home just after new years and got to spend some time with my family before embarking on a journey to Eastern Europe where I spent 8 days in Tallinn Estonia with a friend. While traveling back home we had a layover in Amsterdam and before getting on our plane we were asked if we had been to China or been in contact with anyone who had been in China. I’ll admit that I kind laughed it off at the time. I mean, modern science/medicine had taken care of all the deadly viruses, right? Wrong!

I was home for a couple days before taking off to Texas with my family to see a concert and visit friends on Feb 8th. Travel was easy, no restrictions and we Uber’ed all over Dallas that day in total freedom before arriving at American Airlines Stadium for a concert that was sold out. 20k people less than a foot apart for 4 hours… It was amazing and one of the best times I had with my family this year. Next up was Bandon, Oregon to teach a 4 days photography workshop on Feb 20th…Still no restrictions. We had great weather and really enjoyed our time on the southern Oregon Coast.. March 6th-9th we took off to Delaware for a little east coast time. No restrictions but there was quite a bit on the news about it… We got home on the 10th and it was only a few days later the world came to a screaming halt……And you know the rest of the story… Well here we are, 2020 is over and 2021 has begun.

I would be lying if I said 2020 was a horrible year for me…it wasn’t. Aside from not being able to host our workshops and not being able to eat out in restaurants, things weren’t all that bad. I work from home since I am self employed, the work I do do doesn’t involve many if any people and I got to spend more time with my family (Wife and daughter). We did have to cancel some travel plans, I have not seen my dad since Feb 2020 and I am really missing the beach.

All this being said, I did get to travel stateside and do quite a bit of photography on a personal level. This is one of the true joys of being a landscape/astro photographer. Since April I have been to Kansas x3, Nebraska x2, Iowa x2, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota. So needless to say, I don’t let the grass grow under my feet.. People always say, “how can you do that?” “I wish I could do that.” Well, here is my secret. I travel alone, I pack my food before I leave and put it in a big cooler, my car gets about 50-60mpg and I sleep in my car 3 nights for each night I stay in a hotel. Trips that are 3 nights or less don’t require a hotel. I travel cheap and keep expenses low. This helps me pass on the great deals to those of you who purchase prints.

So like last year’s blog post I am going to do the same thing this year. I will showcase a couple/few images for each month of the year and talk a little about them. There is no way I could pick 10 or 12 images that would properly tell my yearly story. Without further ado, let’s get to the photography!

January

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 64, F/9, 3 seconds

“Monks Alley” AKA St. Catherine’s Passage

Tallinn Estonia – Built over 700 years ago and lined with predominantly 15th-17th century residences. It has a wonderful medieval atmosphere and was last restored in 1995. As I mentioned above, I like to travel alone or with very few people for photography trips. It was only a friend an I on this trip but one of the reason we decided to travel to Estonia in the winter was because of how few people were there. I had seen images from a friend who traveled here the previous year and that was what sparked my interest. The stonework and evening light played well with each other and the lack of people walking down the alley made it pretty easy to capture a great image like this.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 31, F/11, 20 min single exposure

“Viru Gates”

If you look up Tallinn Estonia on the internet, I can promise you an image just like this will come up. This might be the most popular structure/view in Tallinn. The Viru gates, entrance into Old Town, were built in the 14th century and the 2 towers you see here are part of the orig structure. The main tower of the gates was built from 1345-1355. Just to my left was one of the most beautiful flower markets I had ever seen. The flowers were bursting with color and they had a little bit of everything to offer us. It’s hard to believe from this image but on the day we were here it was actually quite busy with people. It rained most of the time during our trip but this was a very nice day and I think all the locals came out as well. Why don’t you see anyone in this image, you ask? It’s a 20 min single exposure. In order to make sure none of the people were showing I had to shoot a super long exposure in the middle of the day. I used a 15 stop ND Filter, the lowest ISO on my camera and an F stop of 11 to allow me a long enough exposure that all the people would disappear.

February

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 180mm, ISO 31, F/14, 0.6 seconds

“Splash”

I was so happy to get back to one of my favorite spots in the world. While visiting the beaches near Brookings, Oregon I found this unique overlook that gave way to a view of a secluded beach. You’d have to do some canyoneering to get down there. I used a long lens and shot several images as the waves came up and hit the rocks. This is only one small portion of the beach. I was fortunate enough to capture this wave just at the moment when it hit the rock and exploded. It’s hard to tell from this image but the splash is between 10-15 feet tall.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/10, 25 seconds

“Port Orford Pools”

During my Oregon Coast workshop, one of the evenings we visited the beaches of Port Orford, Oregon. Port Orford has always been a special place for me since the beginning of my travels to the southern Oregon Coast almost 20 years ago. It’s a gorgeous beach with very few people and nice views of the sea stacks. On this particular evening we visited during low tide which helped to create these pools of calm water in the sand. The tide was actually in the process of coming back in but we were able to take advantage of a wonderful sunset while the pools remained calm.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 200, F/3.2, 0.5 seconds

“Fire in the Hole”

Bandon, Oregon is a photographers dream….Shhh…don’t tell anyone… Actually I think the cat is out of the bag now and the dedicated ones are willing to travel to photograph its beauty. I joke about this because years ago it was rare that I would ever see anyone on the beaches of Bandon and now now there are more people. Lucky, the beach is rather large and expansive so you’re never close to people if you don’t want to be. Also, I do most of my work there in the late Fall and Winter so there are even fewer people. The southern Oregon Coast is far enough from any major cities that most of the people who live in those cities use their time to go to closer beaches..

In February the sun set at the right angle to shine its light through this opening in the rocks. The water also pounds its way through the rocks when the tide is coming in. When I saw what was happening I had to get a shot or at least try. This image is the result of knowing my camera, understanding the histogram and being able to use the correct shutter speed to keep the details in the water. Not only was timing crucial, I also had to make sure that I was exposed properly so that I could capture as much data without blowing anything out so I could properly process it when I got back home. A shot like this would not work well as an HDR because of the water moving. Trying to take several exposures to blend later would have been a lot of work too. In the end I decided on shooting it properly with one shot. Exposing for the highlights allowed me to capture all the data I needed to work with. When the water comes through the hole it can totally block out the sun before pushing out like you see here. It was a tricky image to shoot and I welcomed the challenge.

March

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 98mm, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1 second

“Moon, Venus & the 7 Sisters”

This year was filled with great things to see and photograph in the night skies. With Covid taking over the USA and things shutting down, it was time for me to stay close to home. By that I mean here in Colorado. With the uncertainty of everything going on I stuck very close to home. So close that I actually shot this image from my deck in Littleton, Colorado. When I was done I just went back inside. It was kinda nice but it doesn’t make for a great story and that’s life… I roll with the punches.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 16mm, ISO 8000, F/3.2, 15 seconds, 36 images stacked for Noise Reduction

“Rustic Nights”

I had learned about this barn about a year earlier and I kept looking at it on google maps trying to understand why I hadn’t seen any other images of it. It sits out in the middle of a field, nothing else around it and it faces north. This means that it’s in the perfect location to shoot the Milky Way over it. With a little planning from PhotoPills I was able to nail down a window of about a week that it would be good to go shoot it. I kept an eye on the weather and when I saw a good opening I went for it. Sure enough, middle of the field far far from anything or anyone else and right on time the Milky Way was rising into the perfect position. This was shot in March and I still have not seen any other images of it. I hope this barn sticks around for years to come…It looks like it has some good bones. I am looking forward to shooting it again this year. Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are just to the left of the tip of the barn.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 20mm, ISO 3200, F/2.8, 20 Seconds, 36 images stacked to reduce noise

“Spring Milky Way”

I always get a little giddy when late Winter, early Spring come around and the galactic core of our Milky Way shows itself just before sunrise. Again, I shot this image very close to my home on the first day of Spring at 4:30am. It was bone chilling cold as I was looking for a composition. I don’t generally shoot night stuff so close to my home so I had to doing a little scouting. I came across this fence that was going to have to work. During this time of the year if you don’t already have a place picked out or you’re late getting there, the sun will come up and the milky way will be gone. Again you can see Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on the left side of the scene.

April

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 70mm, ISO 64, F/5.6, 1/200th second

“South Platte Snow”

Colorado seems to get more snow between Feb and May than it does between Nov and Jan. I can work with that. I prefer the snow over clear blue sky days anyway. During these snowstorms the skies are not always great but the snow creates lines and shapes that we can’t see otherwise. Not wanting to sit in the house and not being able to go much of anywhere I decided to head over to the State Park near my home. Never did I realize when I moved to Colorado that I would spend so much time at a State Park. Chatfield State Park is a 2 min drive and an easy “go to” spot when I just need some time outside to shoot. As I was driving around I looked back and this bend in the river caught my eye. I also liked how even in a snowstorm I could still see the warm colors of the bark on the tree on the left.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 95mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/100th second

“Tree in the Fog”

This is another image from Chatifield Lake State Park. We have lived here in Colorado for almost 8 years now and on one hand I can count the times that I have seen fog in Colorado. I’m not sure if it’s just our location, but it doesn’t happen very often. When I entered the park and saw how thick the fog was I got excited. I already had in my head what types of shots I could get and was hoping for. Pre-visualization can be very important when doing photography. If you already know what you’re looking for or hope to achieve, it can make the shooting part of it easier. I was sure hoping to find a single tree like this and I did. The fog didn’t last long and as soon as I finished shooting this it started to burn off. The next image (below) was shot 3 min later.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 68mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/160th second

“Morning Burn”

May

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 100, F/6.3, 1/20th second handheld

“Backroads Sunset”

It’s now May, I’ve been in the house and very close to home for 2 months and cabin fever is setting in. I need to get out…I need to explore…I need to scout places i’ve been collecting on Google maps. After careful consideration I decide to take a solo road trip over to Eastern Colorado for the day. Exploring the back country roads and checking out places I had pinned in my maps was just what I needed. Being in the car allows me to think and simply take time for myself. I had just finished scouting this amazing barn and was headed on to another location as I came upon this scene. This road I am on here is probably 8 miles long and loaded with these small hills. The sun was setting and very low on the horizon with the light being lightly filtered through the clouds. I loved what this scene said to me and the feeling it gave me as I was beginning to end the day.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 31, F/11, 1/4th second

“Sunset Lightning”

Another trip to North Eastern Colorado to shoot an old schoolhouse turned into a lightning storm and an epic fail on the schoolhouse. After scouting the schoolhouse I decided to drive around a bit more and see what I could find. Right behind me there is an old abandoned home I was checking out when I noticed the lightning striking on the horizon. The home did not offer any decent comps so I moved across the street where I saw this tree. I set up and braved the crazy winds. The sun was behind the clouds but about to set which gave a nice glow on the horizon. I took several shots and ended up liking this one the best as the road lets the viewer travel though the image past the tree towards the lightning.

June

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 28mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/50th second

“Barn With a Sad Face”

In the corner of Southwest Nebraska is a very sad barn. It’s beautiful in my opinion and my goal this evening was to photography the Milky Way over it from the other end. I was able to do that eventually but during sunset the wispy clouds complimented the faded colors of the barn and I noticed that the barn looked sad and I wanted to get a picture of it. This old barn is tucked away down a dirt road behind a bunch of trees and it can not be seen from the main road. Because the homes down this road are abandoned (not lived in) there is not much need for anyone to travel down these roads. My friend does know the owner of this property and was supposed to meet up with me on this particular night but other but ended up not being able to. The barn and old home are something I am looking forward to going back and photographing again when he is with me so we can properly access the property. This image was shot from the public dirt road so no trespassing was being done.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/11, 1/125 second

“Roseman Bridge”

Built in 1873 and spanning 107 ft in length at it’s original location the Roseman Bridge was renovated in 1992 at the cost of $152,515. Featured in the movie, “Bridges of Madison County”. After being quarantined and isolated away from people for a while I decided it was time to go see part of our country I had never seen before… I can’t sit at home for too long or I go stir crazy, it’s just not me. Road trips are my escape. I have a niece who lives in Iowa so my daughter and I loaded up and went to visit. My niece had been quarantined for several weeks, we had been quarantined for several weeks so we felt safe making the 9 hour drive (my car can make it from Denver to Iowa without stopping for gas). While we were there we wanted to do things that would get us outside but not be around people and we decided to do the self guided “Bridges of Madison County” scenic tour. It was great. Iowa is so green and when I tell this to people who have never been there they don’t believe me. Remember I grew up in Oregon and it’s super green there but I have to say, Iowa is just as green if not greener. When the corn is growing you can see green for miles and miles. The day we did the bridges tour it was nice and overcast so the light was even and I was able to get decent textures in the clouds.

July

Nikon D850, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 5000, F/2.5, 8 seconds, 42 images stacked for noise reduction

“Special Guest at Midnight Mass”

After a few months of road trips just to get out of the house to shoot and not really having any kind of a master plan, Comet Neowise shows up. I think I can speak on behalf of most people in the photography community or any community really, that this event was a true joy of 2020. Even people who were staying inside left their homes to see this amazing comet grace our night skies. It was here long enough that I think most people were able to see it and oh what a treat it was. There was so much info about it on the internet that anyone could find it and see it. This event was very exciting to me. After a little planning I knew that the comet would be in this exact location at 10pm on July 23rd. I arrived for sunset only to find lots of clouds. I also knew that based on my weather app on my phone that the clouds would start fading around 9:30pm giving way to generally clear skies from 10pm on. My PinPoint weather app has been the most reliable weather app I have ever used and I trust it. I set up my camera as the clouds started to part and just like clockwork, there was the comet. Neowise flying high in the sky right over this old church on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. I used a small light to illuminate the inside of the church and we photographed the amazing event.

Nikon D850, Sigma 85mm 1.4, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 4 seconds, 70 images stacked for noise reduction

“Neowise over The Citadel”

This is another shot I was able to capture of the comet over The Citadel in Colorado from Loveland Pass. Neowise was appearing just after sunset so the slight glow was still lingering around when the comet appeared.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 8000, F/2.8, 2.5 seconds, 96 images stacked for noise reduction
<p class="has-text-align-center" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>"Neowise"</strong>“Neowise”

I had to get a close up of this amazing visitor. The 2 tails were very impressive to see and capture.

August

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 17mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 25 seconds – separate shot for the moon to eliminate blurring

“Wild Night On the Plains”

Summer storms on the Eastern Plains – What a night this was to experience. I met up with a couple friends to shoot this old homestead and as luck would have it we ended up shooting a lightning storm just after sunset and then the stars came out later on. Meanwhile, during sunset, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner. He was a really nice guy and he gave us the story on the old home about how his grandparents used to live here. After talking to him for a while I told him I’d be more than happy to get some prints made up for him of the images I had taken over the years. He gave me his address and we said our goodbyes for the evening. I don’t think he really believed me but a few weeks later I went back to his place and found him working outside on his tractor. I told him we had met a few weeks ago and that I had promised him I would bring him some prints. I gave him 10 different 8×12 prints that I had shot of his place and he was super happy. He told me his sister was going to love them because the old place had a lot of special memories for her. We know this old place wont be around much longer so it was very nice that I was able to connect with the owners and give them some images.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 255 seconds

“Sunset Rush Hour”

Colorado skies were filled with smoke this summer and my heart goes out to all of those who lost family members and or properties in the fires. It was really a horrible time compounding on the growing number of Covid cases. This is another image not far from my home which looks west towards the Front Range and Rocky Mountains. I captured this image of a smoke filed sky just after sunset. We had crazy orange skies for many many days this summer and at times it was hard to be outside and breathe. Nature can be brutal and harsh but at the same time it can create some beautiful scenes like this that help to put people at ease.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/15th second +1 EV

“Sunset in the High Country”

An old barn under the partially filled smokey skies near Grand Lake, Colorado at sunset. This was just another reason to get out of the house and click some images. I had not been here before and wanted to see this place for myself. I met up with 2 friends and we were graced with gorgeous sun rays coming out of the clouds and some really nice light on the face of the old barn.

September

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 5000, F/2.8, 10 seconds, 30 images stacked for noise reduction

“Orion Over Estes Park”

If you know me on a personal level, you know I am always early for everything. Being late is something I just don’t understand at all and don’t have much tolerance for. My wife and I wanted to go see and hear the Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park one day during their rut. We left early enough that when we got there we could hear the elk but not see them. I got out of the car to look around and noticed Orion over the town of Estes Park. The thin layer of clouds was doing a great job of diffusing the stars, making them brighter than usual. I set up my camera to capture this gorgeous scene from Moraine Meadows. Shortly after this image was captured it began to get light out and we could see the elk not far from us.

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/40th , -3 EV

“Old Town Sunset”

With the afternoon storms still happening these gorgeous wavy clouds were mostly grey all afternoon until the sun started to set. They changed colors from pinks and blues to oranges and purples. It was probably the most beautiful sunset I saw all year. And just like most days in Colorado, the clouds went away and the stars came out. We had a gorgeous view of the Milky Way over this old store most of the night. We met one of the locals on this night and he told us about some of the shenanigans that went on around town when there were more people living here. Now, this old store sits on a dirt road corner, empty.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 175mm, ISO 200, F/5.6, 1/60th second

“At the Water’s Edge”

I love Fall and I love how not all the plants and trees change colors at the same time. The color variations are a big part of what make the season so wonderful. My plan at this location was to shoot sunrise with a much wider view. As I was down near the water looking more to my right with a 14mm lens I noticed they way the light was hitting these bushes/small trees and reflecting in the water. I quickly pulled out a longer lens and was able to capture it before it was gone. I had trees behind me that the sun was shining through and in only a manner of minutes the light went behind one of those trees and was gone.

October

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 18mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/125th second

“Great Filling Station”

After being in Colorado for the last 3 months, it was time, once again, for me to spread my wings and go see some new things. I needed and wanted to see some new places that I had never been to before. Being cautious and aware, I loaded up the car and took off on a road trip from Denver to Madison, WI. The 4 images I share with you from October will all be from this trip. Now I’ll admit that I did have a few places picked out that I planned on stopping at and visiting. My end point was an old Grist Mill in Wisconsin. This image above is one of those totally random finds and the reason I try not to take the main freeways or highways. The backroads are always filled with better scenery. After I had crossed into Illinois and was headed north I passed this little place… I kept driving for a couple miles and usually by this time I would have kept driving but something told me to go back..One thing to note is that I rarely come home the same way I get to a place so I knew that I would not see this place again on this trip. I drove back, parked on the side of the road and started taking images. A guy came out, got in his Jeep and pulled into his driveway like he was getting ready to leave. I asked if this way his place and he said yep it was. I asked him if it was ok to shoot some pictures and he said, “sure, just pull your car down into the driveway so it’s off the road”. I said ok, thanks. He then left and took off somewhere so I stuck around and got some images of the old truck and gas can. This was just a super unique find an I am so glad I went back to shoot it.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/13, 1.6 seconds

“Hyde’s Mill Sunrise”

Located near Madison, Wisconsin this was my end goal for the road trip before turning around and heading home. When I arrived here it was already dark and there were billions of stars in the sky. I was super surprised to see how dark the sky was in this area. It was also fairly cold. The water must come from someplace that warms it because at night in the dark I could see steam coming off the water and it really made the scene kind of murky. I did take a few long exposure shots to make some star trails but nothing that ended up being that exciting. When the sun did start to rise and I noticed the clouds and the fall color that was hanging on I began to get a little excited. I knew it had potential. Had I been there a week or so before, there may have been more leaves on the trees but I liked how the bare trees played into the scene with the old mill. The mill was built in 1850 on a stone dam with a beautiful wooden water wheel. After shooting the sunrise I explored more of the area and began my way back home.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 38mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/2000th second, -4 EV

“Our Lady’s Sunset”

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church aka Wilson Church – This is one of the places I planned to go, and I am glad I did. I spent most of my day here just enjoying the view, sitting in my lawn chair relaxing after being in a car for so long. I like to be patient when I need to be and this was one of those times. While I was sitting here a man came up on a 4 wheeler, he was the grounds keeper and just asked me what I was doing and keeping an eye on the place. I told him I was just here to do some photography and then some night shots when it was dark. He told me that the board of directors was thinking of tearing the place down because of all the recent vandalism that had been happening. He wasn’t sure when it was going to happen but that there had been talks. It wasn’t long after I got home and sure enough there was news about it being demolished in the near future. The cross came down on Jan 5th and based on friends IG post there is a gentleman who is working to save and reuse some of the wood. The pews have been gone for years. If you have anything you want to photograph or visit, go do it. Nothing lasts forever and you sure don’t want any regrets. I am very thankful I was able to photograph this beautiful church before the cross came down and they began the tear down. This gorgeous church was built in 1918, 103 years old…

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 100, F/8, 1/5000th second, -4 EV

“Old 55, Your time is Up”

Through photography I have been very fortunate to meet some great people from all over the world both on the business side of photography as well as the personal side. I am very thankful for these friendships and the opportunities they provide. On my way home from my trip I made a stop in Kansas for a few days. A friend of mine had lined up permission for us to do some photography on a private ranch. A very large ranch I should mention. With the help of a side by side 4 wheeler we explored the ranch and some of its offerings. There was old trucks, tractors, stone cellars, and homesteads. Towards the end of the day we arrived at this old 55 Massy-Harris tractor. It sits up on this little hill overlooking the valley below. The sky, still filled with smoke from the wildfires all the way from Colorado were turning this burnt orange color. We knew this was going to be the place for a sunset photo shoot. The rust on the tractor matching the smoke filled skies was a perfect combo. I was particularly drawn to the flat tires. When I close my eyes, I see this tractor in its working condition doing the work that needs to be done to keep the ranch going.

November

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/6.3, 20 seconds

“Little House Under the Stars”

Eastern Colorado, Sunset, Tiny house, Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. In this very very small town we met a young man who was willing to answer our questions about the nearby area and we told him what we would be doing so if he saw any lights not to be alarmed. He said there wont be any problems and told us to have a good night. The beginning of November was when people really started talking about the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn that was going to take place on Dec 21st. It was fun to watch the 2 planets get closer and closer together as the first day of winter drew closer. After I got home I did some research to see if I could find out any info about this house. I called the assessors office and they were very happy to send over what they had. The house had 2 sales on record and the last one selling for $300 back in the early 90s. Based on the news papers we found inside the house has not been lived in or had anything done to it for many years before that. I have the owners name and address now and hope to send them an image of it in the near future.

7 image pano – Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 100, F/13, 1/60th second

“Spanish Sunset”

Southern Colorado is still a rather un explored part of the state for me. I took a drive one afternoon looking for old abandoned places and doing some scouting for potential Milky Way shoots. At the end of the day I arrived at this small meadow looking towards the Spanish Peaks. I liked the way the warm light was hitting the lingering fall colors in the trees as it graced the small hills of the meadow. This is a location you may see in a couple months when I return to shoot the Milky Way over these gorgeous peaks.

December

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/40th second

“Winter at Monument Rocks”

Last trip to Kansas for the year and what a great trip it was. We got to explore some old abandoned buildings with owner permission, I had the pleasure of meeting some distant cousins of mine that I did not know I had and I got to see snow at Monument Rocks. Monument Rocks is a unique feature in Kansas that comes from when the inland sea split the USA many millions of years ago and this was at the bottom. The Niobrara Chalk is a geologic formation that was deposited roughly 85 million years ago. It’s very fragile and crumbles easily. Harsh Kansas weather is slowly taking it’s toll and deteriorating the formations. Even in the 5 years I have been visiting and photographing them, I have seen the changes.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 19mm, ISO 6400, F.2.8, 13 seconds. 30 images stacked for noise reduction and 28 images of meteors

“Sylvan Grove Meteor Shower”

Before I knew I had relatives in Kansas, my trip to Kansas was planned around the Geminid Meteor shower. I had a few places picked out that would work and this old stone house was one of them. On the night of Dec 13th we braved the frigid cold temps and let our cameras work for a couple hours capturing the shooting stars across the night sky. Each of the meteors you see here were blended by hand in Photoshop in the exact location where they fell. I loved that the late season Milky Way was still visible in this sky and in the right location for this image. This is the first meteor shower I have successfully shot in all the years I have been doing photography. Now that I have a better grasp on it, I plan to do more.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 31, F/14, 1/4th second

“Ice’s Eye”

This is kind of a random, lucky image. I had went over to the lake by our house one morning to photograph the sunrise not really know what kind of condition the water would be in. I knew it was cold but not sure how frozen it was. I was pleasantly surprised to see these unique patterns in the ice. The ice was fairly thick in this spot which allowed me to walk on it and set the camera up for a better shot. I was able to get down really low and use a wide angle lens to create a dramatic foreground while still capturing the colors of the sunrise.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/800th second, -3 EV

“If It All Falls Down”

The final sunset of 2020…saying goodbye to an incredibly bizarre year. On Google Maps the back part of the house is still attached. I’m not sure when it fell off and at first I was a little upset that it has fallen since my plan was to shoot the setting moon over it the next morning. Then I realized it’s the perfect ending to a year that in so many ways has been unpredictable and full of surprises, what’s wrong with one more. I truly enjoyed this sunset. I enjoyed my time being here, alone in this part of Colorado. I had time to reflect on all that had happened and how thankful I was to be healthy with a loving family and a roof over our heads. Thankful for our friends near and far, thankful for the new connections I made in 2020. Thankful for all of you who take the time out of your day to read my blog, visit me on social media and help me be inspired by the work you do.

Some special thanks to the companies who help support my work and companies I work with

Robus Tripods and Ballheads – Vantage Series 5558 and RTH-1050 Ballhead

Sigma Lenses – currently using 14-24mm, 50mm, 85mm, 70-200mm and 24-105mm

Moab Legion Papers – Juniper Baryta, Entrada Textured, Somerset Museum Rag, Exhibition Luster

Englewood Camera – A great local camera shop and printers in the Denver Area

Nitecore Lights – Too many to list…check them out.

If you wish to view or purchase any of these images or any of my images you can do so a couple ways.

Darren White Photography Website – Contact me directly for best prices or simply use discount code CPJASS for up to $50 off your purchase.

Darren White Photography Instagram – Let’s connect and inspire each other.

Darren White Photography Facebook Page – Daily posts, what’s happening and special offers.

If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me, I am always happy to answer questions.

Creating a Night Image

Depending on your skill level or desired outcome, there can be more or less that goes into creating a great night image. When I say great I am talking about the level of quality needed for printing large. If you can print an image at least 3 ft wide or tall with little to minimal noise then I would say you have done a great job. I’m not talking about using that single exposure and shrinking it down to fit on your IG feed or in your FB post. Anyone can do that. I am talking about using the tools (your camera and photoshop) to help you create a masterpiece you can be proud to hang in your home or office.

I’ve been doing night photography for over 20 years and while it has changed quite a bit some aspects have remained the same. I am here to tell you that the amazing image you see on social media of night photography are images of creation, not snapshots. Today I want to step you though a very basic image creation process. Each of you will have your own opinions on what you feel this is or how you would categorize it and that’s fine. Technically, in my opinion, it’s a “Blend”. I used my camera to shoot multiple images of a scene that was in front of me and then use those images to create the final image. Here we go!

Low ISO image shot just after the sun went down.

When possible, I always try and arrive at my location before sunset or before sunrise. This allows me to use a low ISO with a longer shutter speed but still using the natural light from the sun or moon. If your timing is so that you arrive at dark and can’t stay long enough, then I highly suggest you still shoot a long exposure with a low ISO at night and this will give you the best possible quality for your foreground. This example was shot right after sunset at 31 ISO for 2 seconds to get the absolute cleanest foreground possible.

44 single images stacked to produce a super clean noise free starry sky.

There is no getting around it, you have to shoot the stars at night! It’s true so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! This is where a little technique comes into play. Focusing in the dark can be challenging sometimes and while it may be easy to focus on the barn with a light, the stars may be out of focus a little depending on what lens you’re using. The sharper you can get your stars the better image quality you will have to start with. In the above image I focused on the stars to insure they were sharp. I used 44 images that I shot back to back to stack and reduce the noise in the sky. I generally shoot for 36 images but depending on what ISO I am shooting I may use more or less. These 44 images were ISO 8000 for 15 seconds each. By doing this it gave me roughly a 6x noise reduction factor which then brings the final image ISO equivalent down to about 125.

Low ISO barn with Stacked Sky

This is where things get fun. I now have my clean low ISO sunset shot of the barn and my stacked 44 image sky that I need to bring together. I use the select and mask option in Photoshop to remove the sky from the barn image and I replace it with the stacked sky image. Using the free transform tool on sky I can place it exactly where I want it. This is where most beginners stop. They have a good sky with a good foreground and to the untrained eye it doesn’t look too bad. To my eye and any of my photography friends’ eyes it should look like a cut and past job. Not something I would be happy with at all. If you look closely you will see that the exposure values differ too much between the sky and the foreground. If you look on the left side you will see how bright the field is in the back towards the sky. Looks like a cut and paste job huh?

With depth layer behind barn

Because we don’t want our image to look like a cut and paste job, there is one more little trick that we must do. Giving the image some depth or separation between the foreground and the sky. It’s not much and it’s very subtle. The depth layer gives the perception of distance and that the barn is not sitting right in front of the Milky Way.

Before and After with Depth Layer

If you look closely at the side by side above you can see the difference the depth layer makes. Had I not told you it was even there you probably wouldn’t have ever noticed without seeing a side by side comparison. This is a crucial part in helping to create a natural looking image.

Curves layers adjustments separately for the foreground and sky

Now we’re are getting into the meat and potatoes of how this image comes to life. Once you have your 3 layers (foreground, depth, sky) you can now adjust them independently of each other and make them blend together. I make one adjustment for the foreground and then one for the sky. By having them each as their own layer in PS I can visually see how the adjustments work together. You may ask, “why not just make one global adjustment for both?” The answer is simple, we need the sky and foreground to blend seamlessly in exposure values and the adjustment for the sky wont be the same for the foreground. By doing them independently of each other we can fine tune so they go together.

Color Efex Adjustments

Once you have your foreground and your sky exposure values working well together you can now make some global adjustments. I, personally, like to do this in DxO Nik Color Efex. These adjustments can really be anything you like. I have my own standards that I use to make images look the way I do. What I really like about using DxO Color Efex is that once you are done making the adjustments and you click OK, it will open it back up into photoshop as a new layer. This is really helpful because it allows you to toggle the eyeball next to the image and see the difference before and after. If you feel like something is too strong you can always use the opacity slider to tone it down or you can simply add a layer mask and brush out the parts you don’t want. Having this finite control is crucial in creating a final image.

Final image with a few minor adjustments back in Photoshop

Now that the image is opened back up into Photoshop we can make some tiny, fine tuned adjustments to finalize our image. Now we have a super clean, printable image that looks very natural as if the moonlight is gently hitting the barn and grass in the foreground as it sets. The Sun, Moon, Milky Way and planets all follow the same ecliptical path in the sky. It’s very important to make sure when blending images or making composites that the direction of light is the same for all the images you are using. Because I shot my foreground right after sunset I knew the light was coming from the west (right) as if there moon were setting. You never want to shoot your foreground in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead unless it’s an overcast day.

Before and After

The above side by side will help you see the difference from start to finish and by adding that layer of depth, it now feels as though the brighter left side is being softly lit by the light behind the barn and is much more natural to our eyes.

I hope this helps you understand the basic process and one of the ways super clean night photography images are created. If you want more detailed help I am happy to do so both via Zoom meetings or out in the field actually shooting (it helps to have the images to work with first) If you already have some images, I’d be happy to help. See links below.

Zoom Learning

Colorado In Field Workshops

All images in this blog post were shot with a Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Sigma 24-105mm and Robus Supports Vantage Series 3 RC-5558 Tripod and RTH-1050 Ballhead

You can find me on Instagram at – @darren_white_photography

Facebook – www.facebook.com/darrenwhitephotography

Website – www.darrenwhitephotography.com

Night Photography Workshops – www.nightphotographyworkshop.com

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? USE THE FORM BELOW! THANK YOU!

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.

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.

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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.

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.

group

CLASSROOM TRAINING

WHAT DOES THE CLASSROOM TRAINING CONTENT LOOK LIKE?

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

Topics We Like To Cover In Classroom Training

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

Software Applications We Use In The Post-Processing Portion

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

Evans Workshop Group

 

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

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

Mike and Lillian

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

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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.

Comet Star Trails at Double Arch 6704

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

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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