Northern Lights and Star Trails

Night Photography Explored: Part 6 – Post-Processing

Stars swirl around Polaris, the North Star, as northern lights dance on the northern horizon over Jackson Hole.

Post-processing can be a very tricky, and often subjective, part of the photo creating process. It opens the door to a number of different formulas, styles, and personal tastes. As a result, I’m only going to explain what I would do in the situations I’ll discuss, primarily using Adobe Lightroom. I take advantage of Adobe Photoshop for some more unusual edits, which we’ll discuss. Regardless, this doesn’t make my edits right or wrong, and they’re certainly not a definitive guide on how to process an image, but it’s how I like my night sky images to look, and therefore, it’s what I know. There are a number of other techniques and styles to look into as well though, so the important factor is finding a style that you like and enjoy and incorporating your own personal tastes into that. – Continue reading

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Night Photography Explored – Part 4: Northern Lights

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. Likewise, I’ll also use auroras where either southern or northern lights could be used. – Continue reading

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12 Favorite Photos from 2012

As always, clicking on an image will bring you to a higher quality version.

January


Hoar frost clings to trees along the Snake River on a chilly January morning in Grand Teton National Park.

Despite a lack of wildlife to be found around the area, I was still able to make great opportunities as they arose. The winter had turned into an unusually warm one for Jackson Hole and while normally it’s too cold to even snow, rain was becoming common throughout January. Yet winter still persisted off and on. On one such morning, I woke up to -17F and made an opportunity to make the most of it. One of my favorite series of shots came from a bridge crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Small pieces of ice were carried down the water from farther upstream as an earlier fog coated the trees that lined the river in hoarfrost. – Continue reading

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Night Photography Basics Part 2 – Full Moon, Star Trails, and Auroras

Moonlight illuminates Glen Canyon and the Colorado River near Page, Arizona.

In Part 1, I discussed the ideal settings for shooting a dark night sky under a new moon, as well as what all those settings mean. If you’re not comfortable working in Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you should go back and read it to make sure you’re up to speed. This section will assume that you’ve got the basic understanding of M Mode and how it works.

This time around, I’ll be discussing how to alter those settings to account for a full moon, how to capture star trails, and also how to photograph the northern or southern lights, aka the Aurora Borealis or Australis, respectively.

Understanding The Histogram

Before moving further, it’s important to understand the histogram as displayed within the camera. Put simply, the histogram shows you the light that was captured in a given scene. – Continue reading

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Night Photography Basics Part 1 – New Moon and Milky Way

NOTE: I’ve revised and rewritten this tutorial in much more depth, which can be found here: http://blog.freeroamingphotography.com/5717/how-to/night-photography-explored-part-2-the-milky-way-galaxy/
Thank you for your support!

Light pollution from Jackson, Wyoming extends up into the Milky Way Galaxy.

There’s an expression in photography that goes, "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 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 do something interesting. This is the first part of a two part series that will focus on how to do night photography with a DSLR camera. The first part will focus on the basics, such as recommended gear and ideal settings, and will get into how and why to use it under a new moon, or no moonlight. – Continue reading

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The Backward Truth About Wolves and Grizzlies

A gray wolf walks along a ridge in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Most people nowadays are well aware that wolves and grizzly bears are controversial species. Regular readers of this blog know that I am passionate about the well-being of these predatory animals. Most people think that all the controversy stems from them potentially eating ranchers’ cattle stock. The truth is, that’s just a scapegoat. The real motive is money that goes beyond ranching.

While wolves may in fact get into ranchers’ stocks and feed on a cow or calf every now and then, the claims are widely overblown thanks to fear and hatred perpetuated by corrupted politicians holding office in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, three states who rely heavily on hunting for valuable revenue. The simple fact is hunting brings in money to the states that they feel is much more important than the well-being of animals that are proven to be beneficial for regions found all over each of these states. – Continue reading

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