• Each trail shows how long the stars moved in 30 minutes.
  • I had to place the tripod just a couple feet above where I thought the highest wave would hit in the next 30 minutes.
  • A few times, I almost had to pull the tripod as the water came to within 1 foot from the bottom of the camera. The tripod was on a solid rock to avoid movement.
  • This is actually white bird guano but appears to have a different color at night.
  • The haze formed from all those waves averaging themselves out over 30 minutes.
  • A thin line of low ocean fog created a white line on the horizon! It later moved in just after the exposure was complete.
  • This rock blocked some waves from hitting me.
  • lol.. Maybe I should add a melting watch here as the surrealist painter Dali would!
  • A moonshadow.
  • This area is actually wet from many waves washing over.
  • wanna be here - BALIwww.com

NightScape - Rodeo Beach, Marin County

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As the 1/4 moon rose 1 hour after sunset about 1 year ago, this scene presented itself in the darkness on Rodeo beach just north of San Francisco in Marin County, California.

Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!

Settings etc.:

30-minute exposure @F5 (ISO 50) with no filters
(I had to guard the camera every second because the waves were big!)
Canon 5D
Canon 17-40L @ 19
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop

The dark and clear conditions allowed the moon to light the seascape much as the sun does during the daytime, but over a long period of time. The waves have been reduced to a haze and the star trails indicate how much each star had moved during the exposure.

It was a warm night and after a while, my eyes became used to the darkness and I could see the faint blue in the sky. This is how it felt to be out here, alone at night in an alien place.

In order to get a properly exposed photograph at night, a lot of experimentation is required. In previous outings at night with strong moonlight, I tried exposures from 5 minutes to an hour. 30 minutes is just about right with this amount of moonlight and the aperture nearly wide open at F5 with ISO 50. Under a quarter moon, perhaps an hour is necessary. Changing the ISO to 200 reduces the exposure time and also
produces less heat sensor noise, which is different than regular ISO noise. I use ISO 200 now as long as I can get an exposure of at least 10 minutes, to show movement in the stars.

Now I use ISO 200 on exposures over 10 minutes and turn on auto-noise reduction, which takes a second picture of equal duration (60 minutes total in this case) with the shutter closed so only noise is recorded. Then the noise is subtracted, leaving the original image with just a hint of noise.

See my profile for a link to my website where I have limited edition prints and less expensive open edition prints.

Tony Lea, ALtammar Q8, Paula Marina, and 1464 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. iknow-uk 98 months ago | reply

    Such a beautiful shot well done

    What do you think of this shot

    Isle of Harris, Scotland

  2. iknow-uk 98 months ago | reply

    Such a beautiful shot well done

    What do you think of this shot?

    Isle of Harris, Scotland

  3. foe 95 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Astronomy Photographer of the Year, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  4. Stan Olszewski 95 months ago | reply

    That is awesome! Its sooooo smooth.

  5. Laurent Camus 94 months ago | reply

    Hi Patrick,can I just ask u how did u focus?I never known how to do it when you can't see anything and most of the time my long expo pictures are fuzzy! Thanks

  6. PatrickSmithPhotography 94 months ago | reply

    Thanks for your comments!

    I focus to infinity when I'm at a wide angle like this and the foreground is at least 10 feet away. But your lens may be different so test it out before you do a long exposure!


  7. Laurent Camus 94 months ago | reply

    Thank you for your answer Patrick and all my congratulations one more time for these pictures!


  8. NPPhotographie 92 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 30-FAV-Natur-nature, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  9. MickMc.C 89 months ago | reply

    Wow, what an exposure. Only came across your fine work now. So many favourites, looking forward to looking through all your work.

  10. pixelstate 89 months ago | reply

    Amazing shot... thanks for the detailed write up...
    I did my first ever shot last week (I was out in the countryside in the UK with little light

    I didn't do a noise reducing second exposure (because frankly I didn't expect the exposure to work at all :-) ) - I regret this now as the 30 minute exposure looked OK but with a lot of hot pixels.

  11. AceNZ 86 months ago | reply

    Wonderful concept and execution. Love your work.

  12. rodΔmΔ ! [deleted] 84 months ago | reply

    : o

  13. Max Hendel 83 months ago | reply

    Picture gorgeous !!!

    Max Hendel - View my recent photos on Flickriver

  14. artland 82 months ago | reply

    This is a wonderful shot!
    You are invited to post it to:


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