The Big Dipper

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    The Big Dipper constellation over Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park. The orange glow you see is light pollution from Colter Bay.

    See the awe-inspiring NightScape VIDEO – with one Milky Way after another!

    Exposure: 15 seconds @ f2.2, ISO 5000; using an EF 24mm f1.4L II lens on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Additional technical stuff. Behind the scenes: The NightScape Story

    ''NightScape'' series style: If I only wanted to capture the stars against a totally black sky and have no landscape features in the foreground, I'd just attach my camera and lens to an astronomy type tracking motor, and expose as long as I wanted (using low ISOs). However, doing this would blur the landscape features, because camera would be following the stars and the rotation of the earth! My goal in this series is to show the stars in a relationship to an earthly landscape feature, and not just do astrophotography.

    In my style of "NightScape" photography, I am trying to capture the stars as points of light, not star trails, so my exposure must be very short -- usually less than 30 seconds. This requires very fast and expensive lenses and extremely high ISOs. (The Canon 5D Mark II is one of the best cameras out there for producing a minimum amount of noise at these high ISOs.)

    Longer focal length lenses require shorter exposure times: With my 180-degree, full frame fisheye lens I can expose as long as 30 seconds and keep the stars as points (unless the image is enlarge over 12 x 18, upon which the stars appear a little elliptical). A 24mm (84-degree angle coverage) requires that I shorten my exposure to 15 seconds or less. A normal 50mm lenses (45-degree angle coverage) requires an 8 seconds or less exposure! This is because the longer focal length lenses are enlarging the area of the sky you see and magnifying the earth's movement -- requiring even shorter exposure times.

    Lens technical problems: The bigger my lens' aperture, the shorter I can expose my images, and the lower I can set my ISO. However, "big" aperture lenses cost a premium, and I've found that unless I stop down at least one aperture stop or more, the coma (spherical aberration) at the edge of my images is terrible -- the starry points of light grow ghostly wings and take the shape of an obtuse triangle!
    Please visit my photostream every Thursday to see a new ''NightScape'' image. Read the Huffington Post story about my NightScape photography. You can also read the technical how-to stuff here.

    Shannonsong, and 68 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 20 more comments

    1. falco8-1 90 months ago | reply

      Bonita imagen nocturna.

    2. STE 90 months ago | reply

      Wonderful sky full of stars, magic work my friend!
      Have you a nice weekend :)

    3. suziqb 90 months ago | reply


    4. zkeletenz 90 months ago | reply

      The light pollution looks like a fire.

    5. Painted Light Studio 90 months ago | reply

      Wow! Another amazing image from you! The color and composition on this one is perfect! An instant favorite!

    6. lhg_11, 2million views. Thank you! 90 months ago | reply

      I'll fave this one too Royce. Your night shot series has been extraordinary..well done my friend!

    7. Albino © 90 months ago | reply

      Gorgeous! Must be seen large to get the full effect.

    8. marcellociappi 90 months ago | reply

      Davvero molto bella la tua foto, ti faccio i miei complimenti !!!!!!!!!!
      Ti auguro un felice week end.

    9. alfonso-tm 90 months ago | reply

      Magnifico trabajo

    10. Larry Daugherty 90 months ago | reply

      AWESOME!!!!!!!!! TOO COOL!!!!!!!!! Excellent, Royce! Thanks for the info!!!!!!

    11. Dylan MacMaster 90 months ago | reply

      Nice one Royce. I like the added emphasis on the dipper to really make it stand out in the sky.

    12. n0vk 90 months ago | reply

      Absolutely Awesome! Great work!

    13. meezer squeezer 89 months ago | reply

      Your star shots amaze me....;-)

    14. Matt Champlin 89 months ago | reply

      hey - love the explanation. I've never taken a night shot I'm happy with, but I simply don't have the lenses for it atm. Good to know with some better equipment I can attempt this.

    15. HamimCHOWDHURY  [Read my profile before you fol 89 months ago | reply

      This photograph is wonderful to view and I like the way
      you have presented , also the text you wrote for us,
      Wonderful Tips sharing my friend

    16. - Lilith - OFF 89 months ago | reply

      your album is really exciting and beautiful, this view is really stunning, marvellous sharpness and fantastic exposure, congratulations!!!
      Have a nice day!!! :)

    17. ~ nicole. 89 months ago | reply

      So magic.. completely fantastic!

    18. emylily 89 months ago | reply

      I love stars So these are Exellent! :--D

    19. ~ Floydian ~ 89 months ago | reply

      iso 5000 and that beautiful 24m/m.......great work man!

    20. michon_maddy 54 months ago | reply

      wow i love it so much

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