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Equinox Eve

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 25 September 2009 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 4-8, 2009 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (5 spots available)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (space available)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (8 spots available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 2010 (Exciting details TBA soon)!

This image is a direct result of previsualization and patience. It is really three separate exposures captured over a 75 minute time span and blended together in Photoshop utilizing layers, masks, and the brush tool. If you thinking to yourself, "hey I've seen this before, you have, if you follow Scott Schilling's blog. We were literally standing side-by side at capture, but our final rendition is completely different.

I started with the foreground exposure which I captured about 20 minutes after sunset as the landscape was bathed in soft dusk light. There were still highlights and shadows as evidenced in the highlights along the ridges of the small hills. The second exposure was for the color along the horizon which I captured at 30 minutes past sunset. Both of these exposures were shot at 200 ISO at f/16. The only variable was the shutter which I bracketed. I also had a Singh-Ray slim polarizer which did saturate the color a bit in both frames. I then waited about 40 minutes for the sky to get really dark, dialed my ISO up to 1600, set my aperture at f/2.8 (the stars are at infinity) and removed the polarizer. I exposed this frame at 15 seconds and only got slight movement in the stars. The crescent moon was actually masked in from a frame shot about 15 minutes earlier.

One of the difficulties in trying to shoot stars and a moon in the same frame is that the moon (even this 6.3% waxing crescent) is much brighter than the surrounding stars. Generally it is alright to expose enough to bring out the the stars and let the crescent wash out, however, there was a lot of particulates in the sky and the moon created an abnormal glow with the overexposure, thus making it necessary to mask it in as a separate exposure.

What I like about this technique is it allows for creative landscape photography when one is faced with the dreaded blue-sky days (which we tend to get in California at this time of year). I will be refining this technique on upcoming shoots and will be revisiting some old locations to add this different look with some creative digital vision.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 8 seconds F/2.8 ISO 800 27 mm

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