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Winter Night, Lower Yosemite Falls

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 20 February 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Spring Big Sur Photo Workshop - March 29 - April 1, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Northern Arizona: Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona Photo Workshop - May 3-7, 2010 (Sold Out - Waiting List Only)
Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
Kauai, Hawaii Photo Workshop - July 12-16, 2010 (space available)
Big Sur Photo Workshop Summer August, 17-20, 2010 (space available)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop November 3-7, 2010 (space available)
New Article on my Website: Balancing Images in Post Processing

Books Available for Purchase on my Website:
Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
The Photographer's Guide to the Big Sur Coast (e-book version - 102 pages)
On the Edge (printed version - softcover and hardcover - 120 pages)

I would be the first to agree that star trails are getting a bit overdone; yet, I love watching the reactions of workshop students who experience night photography for the first time. There is also a special camaraderie and sense of a "shared experience" when working at night with a group of passionate photographers. A pleasant (and clear) winter's night made for perfect conditions for star photography as a group of workshop students headed to the base of Yosemite Falls as part of Gary Hart's winter Yosemite workshop.

My first attempt at capturing this image resulted in the lower falls being underexposed by about a stop. Instead of increasing the time (which was already 20 minutes), I simply dialed my ISO from 400 to 800 and captured this frame. Jet planes streaking across the night sky are always a problem, and I have yet to clone out the streaks with this image.

What I really do like about this image is the juxtaposition of lines. The stars result in creating parallel curved lines (and add visual motion), and the fall is a simple vertical (but also adds motion due to the long timed-exposure). Lines that get interrupted tend to jolt the eye and works towards keeping it wandering around inside the image (always a good thing).

I double-processed this image in Adobe Camera Raw, once for the falls and granite, and once for the sky (which I lowered the color temperature more towards the blue spectrum to give a nighttime feel). I then merged the two together in Photoshop using a layer and mask. Lastly, I opened the image in Nik Viveza 2, placed a control point on the falls, and lightened just the water to give it a bit more punch.

This was a moonless night and focusing is always an issue. Fortunately, I was able to focus on a bright star, but with my aging eyes, I feel I got a bit lucky. I will be testing some laser pointers to find out if they would be an aide in focusing when a moon is not present (would love to hear if any of you have a preferred method).

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1305 second F/2.8 ISO 800 16 mm

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This image has been featured in 1 Remix collection.

Night by Akbar&Armaghan