Midnight Sky over Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

On our second evening in Yosemite National Park, after shooting sunset at Glacier Point we headed back to our accommodations to wait a couple hours for the dark night skies to take over. Our plan had been to return to Glacier Point to shoot the Milky Way, but we made a stop (that became rather lengthy) at nearby Washburn Point along the way, and ended up spending most of our time there.


While I spent most of my time working on improving my shorter exposures (attempting to prevent stars forming trails, as I did at Mono Lake) I decided to ensure I had at least one good low ISO long exposure as well. This one long exposure turned out to be my favorite of the evening.


One thing I particularly like to see with long exposures is a combination of movements in different directions. In this case I was pleased to see the low bank of clouds moving across the frame over Half Dome (resolutely fixed in place), while the star trails cut through the scene at an angle. Despite the long exposure I was also happy to see that the gaseous clouds of the Milky Way still show up within the brighter star trails.


Despite this being nearly 7 minutes of exposure time at f/2.8, there still wasn't a great deal of light captured off of Half Dome and I had to bring up the levels with a curves adjustment. I also cropped the image (including some great star trails at the top) to bring the aspect ratio to 4x5, which I find I prefer more and more for vertically-oriented photos (though it pains me to cut off great star trails at the top).


Yosemite is a spectacular place to take in a clear night sky - something that's getting harder and harder to find. While I love to shoot the park at night under moonlight, it was really a treat to see such clear bright views of the starry night sky. (you wouldn't believe how many stars are up there!)


Nikon D90 | Nikon 35mm f/2.0 | f/2.8 | 418s | ISO200 | Tripod

  • Jonathan Ryder 5y

    A truly extraordinary shot (interesting point about the 4x5 as well, by the way - I agree)

    Via yesterday's Explore at #9 on Fluidr
  • joehall45 5y

    most excellent imagery!
  • luca berardinelli 5y

  • cesar olivares 5y

    woowww 1 imagen esplendida,enhorabuena....
  • Soleil is me. 5y

    BRAVO!; Greeting from Bangkok. Your image is so beautiful artwork from camera and I love it:)


    You are INVITED to display this wonderful photo
    in the INSPIRE Pool
    Be happy Be healthy:)
  • 4ced2think 5y

    Glorious capture! I hope you don't mind if I add it to my gallery "Mauve Skies II"
  • t.sullivan photography 5y

    This is awesome Tyler! It looks like it's raining stars!
  • Rob Kroenert 5y

    Tyler - thought I already commented on this one... I mean, wow - this is outstanding! The star trails are awesome and that layer of low clouds pushes it over the top.
  • Pater JPM 5y

    whoa! crazy good shot.
  • Chris OBrien 5y

    Wonderful shot, I do really like how the clouds block part of the trails.
  • Ar'alani 5y

    Dear god, Tyler. This is one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. Seriously.
  • Adam Fritzler 5y

    Absolutely amazing. Love the sharp cutoff of the stars with the clouds.
  • Farshad Palideh 5y

    wonderful star trails

    Seen in my contacts' photos. (?)
  • Darvin Atkeson 5y

    Now that is impressive. I love the blend of clouds and star streaks. Nicely done.

  • Chip Shotz 5y

    Exceptional exposure.
  • areacode 5y

    This is unreal. Such an amazing shot. I would love to have this hanging on my wall.
  • Karen Bonsell 5y

    Amazing shot, I think the clouds really make it!!
  • Luke_23 4y

    Incredible, I love the way it's cut into sections
  • Alexandr Gordiychuk 4y

  • LongExposures .co.uk 3y

    Interesting how the star trails continue below the cloudline
114 faves
Taken on June 8, 2010
  • 35.0 mm f/2.0
  • ƒ/2.8
  • 35.0 mm
  • 418
  • 200
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
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