About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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A Geminid Meteor streaks through the sky above the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III, Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4, Aperture: f/4, ISO: 4,000, Shutter Speed: 10sec., Focal Length: 17mm
By contrast to photographing the northern lights, meteor showers are much more predictable for their peak and thus help to be easily planned out to photograph. Predicting exactly when a meteor is going to streak across the sky though is a lot like trying to predict when lightning will strike. This section will help you get the most out of every meteor shower so that you’ll be able to come away with some great shots of shooting stars!Setting Up
This is where you’ll definitely want to be capturing more sky than land, even if there is moonlight. Your composition can certainly have some distinct silhouettes, or even features if there’s moonlight, but you want the majority of your image to be of the night sky.
Multiple meteors falls toward the northern horizon of Jackson Hole, Wyoming as northern lights illuminate the night sky above.
Northern lights above Teton Mountains
Camera: Canon 7D, Lens: Sigma 20mm f/1.8 Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 3,200, Shutter Speed: 20sec. Focal Length: 20mm
The northern lights (aurora borealis; also southern lights for the southern hemisphere, aka, the aurora australis) are one of the most sought-after phenomena in the night sky. Casting bright, colorful lights from above, they have entranced civilizations for countless years. Thanks to digital photography, photographing them has recently become one of the most exciting objects to capture. Unfortunately, few people really know how to take advantage of the opportunity, so hopefully this will help you capture them next time you’re out. The term ‘northern lights’ can be replaced at any point with ‘southern lights’. I’ll use the terms interchangeably.
The Gros Ventre River, frozen from freezing temperatures, flows through Grand Teton National Park.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III, Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 3,200, Shutter Speed: 10sec., Focal Length: 17mm
For many night photographers, the moon can be more of a deterrent from proceeding with night shots. Moonlight drowns out many faint stars, as well as the Milky Way. That means that you won’t be capturing bright Milky Way shots filled with an unfathomable amount of stars flooding a night sky. Where it hampers dark sky photography, however, it opens up new landscape possibilities, bringing new life to familiar scenes.
With moonlight, the focus isn’t just on the stars as it was with new moon photography. Instead, you now have the option to compose full landscapes and any sky that’s included will likewise include the brightest stars from the night sky, making it much easier to isolate many constellations.
The Milky Way Galaxy reaches down into the light pollution produced from Jackson, Wyoming as airglow fills the remaining night sky.
Camera: Canon 7D, Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 6,400, Shutter Speed: 30sec., Focal Length: 11mm
For millenia, people have gazed upon the Milky Way Galaxy in awe of its consistent streak through the night sky. It remains the symbol of enigmatic wonderment for both experienced and casual night sky observers. Thus, it is also one of the first night sky objects that people want to photograph, especially if they’ve taken the time to drive out to the middle of nowhere to see it, which leads to the first requirement.Find a Dark Sky
In order to properly photograph the Milky Way, the first and most important step is to find a dark sky. If you live in a large city, you have some driving to do.
The Milky Way Galaxy arches over Jackson Hole, Wyoming as northern lights glow on the northern horizon.
Camera: Canon 7D, Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 5,000, Shutter Speed: 30sec., Focal Length: 11mm
There’s an expression in photography that says, "Don’t pack till it’s black," implying that as long as there’s light in the day, there’s still something to shoot. While it’s certainly true, one of the most exciting times for photography is when it has actually gone black, or rather, during night time hours. Whether there’s a new moon, full moon, or something spectacular in the sky, there’s still plenty of light to work with to create something interesting. This is the first of several posts that will focus on how to capture and maximize your time out under a starry night sky. Everything will be discussed, from gear, to setting up the shot, to post-processing techniques.
Fog lifts around the Teton Mountains and above East Gros Ventre Butte as seen from the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyoming.
Many people have made New Year’s Resolutions, and most won’t be kept. The problem with the average New Year’s Resolution is that it’s such a drastic departure from a normal routine that it becomes very easy to break. In most cases, it also comes at a cost that most people don’t want to experience: cutting out sugar; waking up much earlier to run; etc. Without seeing much evidence for any immediate change, old habits revert back to a natural routine. What if you could adapt a New Year’s Resolution that not only brought about noticeable change, but actually made you feel better? We’ve all experienced that feeling of invincibility, where nothing could bring us down. What if that feeling, where no matter what someone said we were still flying high, could become the norm?