Featured Photo – “Astral Expedition”

© Mac Danzig

Technical Data:

Camera:  Canon 1Ds Mk II

Lens:  Sigma 15mm Fisheye

Exposure:  382 seconds

Aperture:  f/5.6

ISO:  100

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…




2 Responses to “Featured Photo – “Astral Expedition””

  1. Great Photograph!!!

    btw, How come you’re using the sigma 15mm and not the Canon model? you seem to be really concerned (quite rightly so…) about lens quality. Zaiss 18mm, Canon 17 ts-e, 24mm 1.4…. Sigma 15mm??!! I wanted to send you an e-mail about it but couldn’t find it…



    • Manuel, thanks so much.

      I have actually found the Sigma 15mm fisheye to be superior to the Canon version of the lens… I will be posting a comparison soon…

      Yeah, I am pretty much on a quest for the best optics out there to match with today’s high-megapixel sensors… I think what really started it for me is realizing that if I am going to make very large prints, many wide angle lenses out there have very noticeable optical flaws…

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