I spent last week leading a night photography workshop high in the White Mountains on the California-Nevada border. This eastern California desert mountain range is home to the ancient Bristlecone Pines, known as the world’s oldest living things.
It was great to get to spend so much time in the Patriarch Grove of Bristlecone Pines, which is at an elevation of about 11,300 feet. These trees, and the entire high desert mountain environment, are incredibly beautiful and spiritual in feeling.
I set this shot up and let my programmable intervalometer proceed on automatic while I wandered the grove and met with workshop participants, who had spread out in the night. Everyone was having a good time. A distant storm to the east over Nevada added a frisson of excitement to the proceedings. We listened to the rumble of thunder and watched lightning flashes, wondering whether the ongoing multiple exposure process would capture the flashes.
In my case, there was not so much lightning in my photo because my camera was facing north and the lightning was on the periphery of its vision. But simply being there watching the night weather in this high mountain place surrounded by the gnarled and wonderful “Entish” trees was the experience of a lifetime.
To create this image, I stacked together 47 four minute exposures using the Photoshop Statistics script. Each exposure was made at 12mm, f/4, and ISO 400. I also layered in an earlier twilight exposure to create the detail shown in the foreground.