Archive for night

Featured Photo – Blue Canyon Star Trails

Posted in Featured Photos with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2010 by macdanzig

Technical Data:

Camera:   Canon 1Ds MkIII

Lens:   Canon EF 17mm TS-E

Aperture:   f/4

Exposure:  1357 seconds (approx 22 min)

ISO:  200

About the photograph:

“Blue Canyon” is another one of the amazing and remote gems in the Southwest that has an incredible array of rock formations which are extremely delicate.   The name is a bit of a misnomer, as there isn’t anything “blue” about it.   During the same photography trip that eventually included White Pockets, my good friend and I headed to this, another part of Arizona seldom seen.   With some extremely helpful information from a great local photographer, we easily found this canyon after a few hours of driving through the highways and back roads of Arizona. – Just in time for sunset.   Unfortunately, the sky was flat and boring, just as it was during much of that week in the Southwest.    Fortunately for me, my friend is a night time long-exposure fanatic like I am, so we hung out for about 90 minutes after dusk and began composing some star trail shots…   Like I often do with star trails, I located Polaris (the north star) and composed my foreground to work with it, thus creating a spiral-like effect over the long exposure.

Normally, I like to shoot star trails under a new moon (that’s no moon at all) or at least during a time when something less than a half-moon has already set below the horizon.  This helps me achieve a very long exposure time without the sky getting blown-out or overexposed…    This time, I shot under a 25% moon which was really great because there was no need to light-paint with an artificial source.   At the same time, I was restricted to a sub-30 minute exposure, but as I am learning- the need to expose for an extremely long time isn’t as important as the other elements involved in  capturing a perfect star trail shot.  The longer trails from 1 or 2-hour long shots aren’t even always that aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion.

While we were there, I also took some moonscape shots with higher ISOs.  I will be posting some of them soon.   In the end, I was very happy with the way this shot turned out.  The need for post-processing was very minimal as well.

One thing I must touch on again is how incredibly delicate these structures are.  This isn’t a place that will hold up to many human visits and because of that, I am not ever going to publish directions to this area.  Unfortunately someone eventually will, and unless the local Navajo council (which governs the land that Blue Canyon is on) does something to regulate visits, we may see a similar situation as what happened in Fantasy Canyon in 2006.   For now, the remoteness of the area and relatively unknown terrain will keep most people away.  But if you do go there, please watch where you step and tread lightly.  This will help ensure the physical preservation of this magical area for future visits.

Thanks for looking



Featured image – Wyoming Stars

Posted in Featured Photos with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by macdanzig

Wyoming Stars © Mac Danzig


Technical Data:

Camera:  Canon 1Ds MkII

Lens:  Canon 24mm f/1.4 L

Exposure time:  1204 seconds (just over 20 mins)

ISO: 200

Aperture:  f/3.5


Story Behind the Photo:

I always thought this would be a great subject for star trails… Everyone has seen the quintessential sunrise shot here, but I wanted to try something different.   Me being a long exposure/ star trail enthusiast, I am always thinking of the perfect foregrounds for this kind of capture.

I just shot this in March 2009 in Grand Teton National Park… The first time I time I visited this place in autumn of ’08, it poured rain and the cloud cover was 100% all day and night, so I couldn’t even get a sunrise shot, let alone any night time photos…

As luck would have it, the second time was a charm and with the help of a sky devoid of the moon’s light, I was able to get this shot…

When I shot this, Teton NP was pretty much snowed-in with gigantic drifts except for the main road through the park… I rented snow shoes earlier in that day, and at night made the mile-long trek down the closed-off Antelope Flats road through 2 feet of snow in pitch darkness… (snow shoes definitely help, but they don’t stop you from falling through the snow at least once every 5 minutes, if you’re me)    Once here, it was a great feeling to have the area to myself, without a ton of photographers like there would be in the morning during summer time… Coyotes and Owls called back and forth in the darkness during this 20 minute exposure…

This was my first time using my then-newly-acquired 24mm 1.4L and am am very happy with the results… I light-painted the barn itself with a small spotlight for about 2-3 seconds.   It was difficult to get the light painting exactly how I wanted it, because the snow on the foreground, as well as the lighter wooden posts in front of the barn were easily overexposed on my test shots, due to their reflectiveness…   The barn itself absorbed light rather than reflecting it, so it needed much more exposure to the spotlight than the beams in front…  After a few tries, I found the right light-painting formula for this shot.

If it wasn’t so damn cold, I might have stuck it out for an hour-long shot… Oh well, there’s always next year…



thanks for looking


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