Featured Photo – “Astral Expedition”
Camera: Canon 1Ds Mk II
Lens: Sigma 15mm Fisheye
Exposure: 382 seconds
Story Behind the Photo:
This shot is part of an idea I had for quite some time. I can’t say it came out the way I planned, but just being here at the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park is an incredible experience in itself. It was only mid-October when this was taken and the wind chill at night was pretty harsh, even for a cold weather lover like myself. There was so much fine sand and dust being kicked around, you had to change lenses under your coat, unless you wanted a sensor full of dust spots.
We purposely camped here during a full moon and it was a little too bright for my taste… I usually only shoot star trails during a new moon. Normally I like to get at least 20 minutes on a star trail shot, but 5 to 6 minutes was just about maximum for an exposure here, considering the desert floor reflects quite a bit of moonlight… On top of that, the sky was quick to wash out, so the exposure had to be watched closely. One positive regarding the full moon was the exceptional visibility we had while searching for foreground subjects in the middle of the night.
I would love to come here some time during a half moon and get the proper illumination of the entire landscape, while still opening up for over twenty minutes.
This is one of those fairly-remote, magical places that really deserves a few trips a year, considering I live only a few hours away…