Milky Way stars over Thor's Hammer - Bryce Canyon
Starry night sky and the Milky Way over the Thor's Hammer hoodoo, in Bryce Canyon National Park. Camera aimed towards northeastern sky. Note The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and the Double Cluster.
My new ebook, Milky Way NightScapes, gives extensive details on my style of starry night landscape photography. Four chapters cover planning, scouting, forecasting star/landscape alignment, light painting, shooting techniques and post processing. Special Flickr Promo: Use Discount Code FLIK for $5.00 off at checkout (limited time only).
Canon 5D Mk II - 24mm f1.4L II lens
15 seconds - f1.4 - ISO 3200
Light painting for 10 seconds w/ 2-million candle power reflected halogen (from 300' to left of camera)
Behind the scenes: The NightScape Story
Removing the Grit in Sky: My exposures show virtually ALL the stars in the sky -- so many, that the sky often appears gritty. The larger you view my NightScape images, the more pleasing and beautiful the sky becomes. Clicking on the image will enlarge horizontal images to the "Large" size. For vertical images (on most monitors), you will also need to choose "View all sizes". The best viewing experience for these images comes from viewing a 12" x 18" or larger print!
Leftquark asks, "If you let less light in do you get less stars and thus less 'clutter'?" The answer is yes. You do get less "clutter" from the dimmer stars if you "let less light in" (underexpose); and that is because they become so dim, they start to fade away. The best way to let less light in is to lower your ISO, because in serves two purposes. If we dropped our current ISO from 3200 to 1600 (based on the above manual exposure), you would not only drop out some of the smaller stars, but you also have less noise, which also removes some of the "grit". Keep in mind though that your bigger, brighter stars will also not be as bright anymore, so you lose some of your sky contrast and punch. This can be somewhat of a catch-22: lose some of the clutter and also lose some of your sky drama from lack of contrast. Still, some people like to get rid of some of the clutter, and underexposing is a great way of doing that.