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!)