If you're ever in Death Valley, I strongly suggest the drive to
Rhyolite, NV at night.
Even if you aren't into night photography, it's something everyone should experience. The town started with 2 people in 1905, in 1907/8 there were 5,000 people living there all looking for gold. Months later the lack of ore and some poor timing on the part of investors (Charles M. Schwab) quickly turned Rhyolite into the ghost town that it is today.
The century old structures combined with billions of visible stars make for an experience I will never forget. No photograph can represent what we saw with the naked eye, literally billions of stars. We saw shooting stars at every turn of head and every color in the PMS book represented on one giant, celestial canvas.
The making of:
This is a combination of two images.
1. One 67 second exposure to capture the stars (f22, 8mm lens, ISO 1250, it's 67 seconds because of the "600 rule." If you divide the focal length (8mm) into 600 you get 75. That's the amount of time I have before the stars start to streak. (it's 67 because I count in my head and that's never right on, it should have been 75 seconds)
2. another quick shot at 1/250th, f8, ISO 100 with an external flash to light the buildings.
I then lay #2 over #1 in "SCREEN" blending mode and this is the basic result....no masking involved.
I also use curves and levels to bring out all of the stars in the RAW file data. You are shooting in RAW, right?