CTE Weekly Photo Challenge: N is for Night

I really wish I could do night photography better. Mostly, I am constrained by life. In order to truly get the star photographs I want, I need to go out into the middle of nowhere and spend a few nights, sleeping during the day. But the other joys of life (i.e., family, work and responsibilities) keep me busy for the time being.

So for now, I settle into my backyard wearing pajamas and flip flops and freeze my little toes off trying new things. Could I have done it better? Probably. Would I have lost my toes to frostbite? Very likely!

Anyhow, here’s the photo. Can you tell which constellation it is?

040612 Name that constellation

Canon 60D | 18-135mm lens | 30″ | f/4.0 | ISO 100 | Manual Mode

It was a full moon out tonight, so that celestial object was enough light pollution to wipe out my vision of the stars through the view finder, meaning I had to guesstimate and take a few  “alignment” shots. I initially set my camera ISO to 3200, but I didn’t like how washed out it made everything, though I will admit it picked up more stars – but the sky was gray rather than black.

I gradually decreased my ISO to 100 and made shutter speed and aperture changes until I got it generally how I wanted. But the tree looked gross. It was more of a bright orange yellow, which isn’t the actual color of the tree. So, to the chagrin of my neighbors (but they didn’t holler any obscenities over the fence), I grabbed my Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash and held it at many different angles, flashing probably 12-15 times in various spots, ranging from 10 feet to the left of the camera, and 10 feet to the right – all done in the 30-second exposure. During one exposure, I took the flash to the backside of the tree, but the tree turned a deep red (I’m guess that’s because it was in the shadow of the flash) and that is even farther from how I wanted it to look.

In the end, I used the photo with the flashes in the front, then made it black & white, added my signature, and uploaded it to my Flickr page.

I would love to try this again, even if it is from my backyard. But I will need to make sure it’s clear skies, no moon, and everyone in Davis County shuts off their lights so I can get my shot. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Oh, and if you didn’t catch it, the answer is Ursa Major (a.k.a. Big Dipper).

~signed, Carltonaut

2 Replies to “CTE Weekly Photo Challenge: N is for Night”

  1. I know, I know (she shouts at the screen childishly), it’s Ursula Major, the Great Bear or the Plough! Great photo maybe next time you could take the kids camping!

    1. Thanks. Camping is a great opportunity to get away from the light pollution. I’ll have to try that this summer and see what I can capture in the heavens.

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