#52weekproject – Week 23: Mazama Village Campgrounds

Crater Lake, Oregon

52wp-W23 Crater Lake Mazama Campground 2014-09-27

Taken Friday, September 26, 2014.

Drove into Crater Lake National Park, well after sundown. After we set up our tents, I decided to set up my cameras for some long exposure timelapses of the sky, even though I was kind of exhausted. Really wanted to do this timelapse over Crater Lake, but driving back up those switchbacks in the dark from the campground didn’t seem appealing. Unfortunately, putting off til tomorrow what could have been done that day came back to bite me, as the following night was cloudy, and windy, so unfortunately, I didn’t end up getting any starscapes over Crater Lake. Looks like I’ll have to go back out to some other time!

I did crop the photo a bit to balance the image, and cut out the truck and the light from the bathroom. And, since I did do a timelapse with this, I was also able to stack the photos into a startrails photo. Using a different method than I have before, I stacked these in photoshop, grouped them as a smart object, and set the Stack Mode to median, which I think gave a more pleasant result than I typically get (the trails usually look more jagged and noisy). I’m still learning some of the post-processing on these photos, but overall, it’s pretty solid! Let me know what you think, or if you have any tips, or tutorials to share!

Mazama Village Startrails stacked

More on Star Trails…

Wacousta Time Lapse Stacked



A few weeks ago, I went back to visit my parents in Michigan for a weekend, and spend some quality time with them for the Lunar New Year (a.k.a. Tet). In addition to the good food, and the spending time with the parents, another one of the benefits of leaving Chicago is the ability to get away from the light pollution. Granted, it’s great living in a big city, where street lights allow you to see where you are going, and give you some feeling of security at night, but if you’re trying to look up and see the stars, it’s no bueno, as they say. All those bright lights reflect back into the sky, and diffract in the atmosphere, making it much more difficult for the already dim star light to find it’s way to our peepers (a.k.a. eyeballs). In any case, using the Photographer’s Ephemeris app, I was able to find the times of the sunset and the moonset, and then using the Star Walk app, figured out which direction to point my camera. After getting the settings dialed in, I set up my camera to manual, using a remote timer to take 99 shots. 16mm, F/5.6, 20s at ISO 1600. And just like with a RonCo rotisserie cooker, I just set it and… FORGET IT! Well, not quite, I still hung around out in the cold for about 40 minutes trying to stay warm as my camera fired away.

The eventual shots I took, converted to jpeg, and imported into Adobe Premiere Pro to turn into this 9 second timelapse (Best viewed in 1080p, fullscreen, if possible).

It’s kind of crazy how many shots you need to take to turn into a timelapse video of a respectable length.

So now, you’re probably wondering, what does this video have to do with star trails? Well, I’m glad you asked. Previously, I would shoot with low ISO, small aperture, and a long shutter speed to get the star trails. This time, I went with a different method. Taking a large number of discrete shots, and then stacking them in photoshop. There are pros and cons to each method, especially since this method takes a whole lot more effort to get the final star trail photo. I’m lookign to do a little camping this summer, so hopefully I can do some more star trail photos. That’s it for now! So, how are you doing?

Stars over Montanny

Nikon D700, 20mm f/2.8, 451s at f/13, ISO 100

Winter Roadtrip Photography…

It took 13 hrs to get from the Twin Cities to get to Ashland, Montana to visit my brother.  I had just gone out to Minnesota to go to Lutsen, MN for an annual snowboarding/ski trip with my group of friends in Minnesota, so I figured 13 hrs is much closer than the 24 hours it would have taken from Michigan.  Fortunately for me, this winter has been unusually mild, and so with no snow anywhere to be seen from Minnesota, through North Dakota, and into Montana, the drive was relatively easy.

Star Trails…

The optimal time to do star trail photos is if you are far away from civilization.  The amount of light pollution you get from being near lots of city lights makes it harder for you to see and capture the stars through the atmosphere.  Luckily for me, my brother is teaching on an Native American reservation far away from civilization and big city lights.  The nearest big city would be Billings, which is about 2 hrs away by car.  It was almost a full moon out, so I couldn’t really get any photos of the milky way, but what’s nice is that the moon lights the landscape, so as long as it’s a relatively still night (so you don’t have too many things moving, and being all blurry like bigfoot), then it works out pretty nice.  Things turned out pretty good.  I made adjustments on Lightroom, and only photoshopped out some power lines using content-aware fill, which worked well enough.

Anyway, enough talk, here are some photos:

Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.4D, 601s at f/16, ISO 200.

Overlook Saint Labre: Nikon D700, 20mm f/2.8, 20s at f/8.0, ISO 2500

The JV House: Nikon D700, 20mm f/2.8, 20s at f/8.0, ISO 2500

Also, feel free to leave any questions or comments below. 🙂

Seeing Stars… aka Star Trails

While in Colorado earlier this month, I tried to capture a few star trail photos.  I understand the concept pretty well; basically long exposure shots of the night sky, but without having done them before, they aren’t as easy as they look.  The key to getting some interesting shots is to have a good foreground to anchor it.  Otherwise, it’s just some arcs of light.  I think even a silhouette of something would work.  Here’s a few from a campsite just outside of Fruita, CO.  These trees were illuminated by a nearby tungsten light from the campgrounds.   Luckily, it was a relatively windless night, keeping the leaves still enough to get some detail.  Anyway, I’m pleased with the results.  I’ll be trying it again sometime soon, but now that I’m back in Michigan, the mosquitoes are not really convincing me that I want to spend time outside at night… But perhaps, when it gets a little colder, I might try to make it out for some photos.

This last one is actually from later in the week, in Estes Park, of what I believe is Long’s Peak.