This has been an incredible week for me, I have pushed myself to learn new skills and see new places. I have never been to any of the spots visited on this trip before and I have never had this much fun after dark. It’s Thursday and today is going to be different. I will be photographing during the day… at least for a little while.
The day started out as it normally did this week, breakfast at Nicely’s (poached egg on home fries and coffee) and then a walk back to the hotel to pick up gear and get started. Up the Tioga pass and now and in the daytime, I see the beauty of the park.
I know this has been said before but the majesty of this part of the world, it’s splendor and beauty is not to be matched. While it’s true that no beauty exists without the eyes of another to appreciate it, this place is magnificent no matter who is looking. In one of many stops, I pull over sometimes even obeying the rules and parking in the rest areas. Most times, if I spot something, I pull over.
So today, I am going to show you my snapshots first, then I will tell you a story.
Notice the tree against the stone. Do you realize how hard it is to get that stick to stand straight? (only kidding)
And there’s more where these came from, it’s like spitting out post cards; the colors, the splendor, the vastness of it all. And yet it’s hard not to smile while driving. Is that a problem?
But the real story is about the big catch of the weekend. Yes, everything was amazing, the hot springs, the Tufa’s, Bodie Ghost Town, everything but the one thing I came to do was to learn night photography and the techniques required to build on it when back home. After 4-5 hours of class a day and after being out until 2:00 every morning, I am tired and ready to be done. But not yet…. Because the big fish to a night photographer are star trails. To the average person, they might not even notice.
But for night photographers, one of the essential techniques to master is finding the North Star and locating it over your subject. Now back on Olmstead Point for the second time this week, I waited for the moon to rise, And did it!
The moon came up as if thrown by an Olympian, faster than I would have expected and then hung there in the sky like a giant glowing orb reflecting the inner light of the sun.
I found the tree I wanted, I found The North Star and I went to work. I made several test exposures all in the 1st half hour and yet I wasn’t ready yet. I experimented first with the amount of light to paint on the tree. Next I experimented with exposure time. I wanted long star trails so I set each exposure at 15 minutes. I set the intervalometer for 2 hours and then… I found a comfortable spot and watched BattleStar Galactica on my iPhone while waiting.
With each click, I knew I was closer to seeing the results. And then the final click. The stop watch said for about 1-1/2 hours had passed.
Remember, each frame is not a picture per se, but it’s the combination that makes it magical. In this case, I wanted to be sure everything seems to be working. Then it happened, I heard the last click of the shutter and patiently waited for the 1 thing that I had to do.
Now, before I look, I saw a quick prayer for the gods of Luminos to be kind, and I see a perfect photographic sequence of the stars moving around the stationary tree. Later, back at the hotel, a friend provided instructions on using layers in Photoshop and this was my result.
All week long I worked up to this picture. I hope you enjoy seeing it, I am delighted to show it to you.