A few days ago, my father and I (and the dog) went camping in the San Juan Mountains of south-western Colorado. We pitched camp in a north-facing alpine glen at about 11,500 feet. Now, I have been to higher places in Peru, Tibet and elsewhere but by the next morning my head was pounding with the beginnings of altitude sickness. But, such is the fate of people who make their home at 43 feet above sea-level. And, I just had to descend about 5,000 feet to start to feel better again. All complaining aside, it was a great night in the mountains.
The primarily goal of the sojourn was to find a spot with a south-facing mountainside so I could shoot some long-exposure, star trail shots. In the end, I am really pleased with how they came out. We got cold, we almost skittered over a mountain slope, we drank a little bourbon (really, not the source of the headache).
At some point, I am going to rework this shot with Canon DPP to do some RAW fine adjustments, but Aperture’s RAW converter seems to have done a decent job. Of course, the low humidity and cold temperatures (as well as almost no light pollution) helped a great deal. But, this has all been a learning experience. In the past. I have always shots my night work with either a Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 or a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8. This time I was trying out some new gear, namely the Canon 5D MKIII and the much maligned Canon EF 20mm f/2.8. The 20mm might not be as sharp as the 28mm but it is no slouch at f/4.
I’ve been out in the mountain-West for a little over a week now and was able to make a side trip over to Canyonlands National Park for more camping and more night photography. I’ll post those shots later. In the meantime, here is a list of gear I used to get these shots (not all of it was used for each shot):
Here is some information about star trail techniques, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Here is another version of the star trails shot that was run through DPP before processing in Aperture and Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Thoughts?