Night Photography Explored: Part 5 – Meteor Showers

A Geminid Meteor streaks through the sky above the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
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.
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Night Photography Explored – Part 2: The Milky Way Galaxy

The Milky Way Galaxy reaches down into the light pollution produced from Jackson, Wyoming as airglow fills the remaining night sky. (Mike Cavaroc)
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.
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Night Photography Explored – Part 1: Introduction

The Milky Way Galaxy arches over the runoff from Kelly Warm Spring as northern lights glow on the northern horizon in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
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.
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A New Year’s Resolution You Can Actually Keep

Fog lifts around the Teton Mountains and above East Gros Ventre Butte as seen from the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
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?
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Fighting Light Pollution in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Milky Way Galaxy arches above Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. (Mike Cavaroc)
Light pollution spills into the night sky from various area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

For millenia now, humans have gazed up at the night sky in search of answers, clarity, and self-awareness. The night sky has always been a treasure chest of wonderment and puzzles, revealing clues not just about our past as a race, but about ourselves as well. Today, the fascination that a dark sky provides has given way to urban sprawl and modern conveniences, consistently keeping us disconnected from finding real meaning in our lives. Our historical amazement at a dark, night sky has now become nothing more than a faded photograph in our increasingly distant past. Dark skies have become a rarity not just in America, but in every developed nation, and are continuing to fade into the abyss of quite often, unnecessary illumination.

Fortunately, there are those who are willing to put everything they have into preserving the few dark skies we have left.
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Fixing the Economy While Relieving Predator Tension

A bison walks through the grasslands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. (Mike Cavaroc)
A bison walks through the grasslands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

The American West is currently in a state of tensioned flux. The Old West built the foundation for the very land that we have come to love so much. The New West is trying to alter it in ways that upsets much of what The Old West was founded on. Both sides ignite angst in the other. The Old West cares about the land in its own way, wanting to preserve the land for ranching and recreation that founded the landscapes. Meanwhile, The New West wants to conserve everything, leaving The Old West wondering where there would be room for ranching. One solution could be simpler than we realize.

What people love about the American West is that there is still plenty of open space inspiring everyone who visits or who is fortunate enough to call a western region home.
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