OK. So it was hardly a gourmet picnic dinner. Steven and I stopped for a take-out sandwich at the Subway in Lone Pine, California. Then we headed for the top of a pinnacle in the mid-portion of the Alabama Hills in time for sunset and night.
I pointed a camera south (above) and roughly north (below). For the south camera I was able to use my 110 volt DC battery, described in my story about Lady Boot Arch. The north camera was party, party, party until the camera battery went dry. If you want the gory details, the south-facing photo consists of 25 stacked 241 second exposures (241 seconds is my D300’s idea of a 4 minute bulb setting) for an exposure time of roughly 100 minutes. I used a 10.5mm digital fisheye for these shots at f/3.2 and ISO 250.
For the north-facing shot, I was able to eke out 17 exposures (again, at roughly 4 minutes for each exposure) before the battery drained, for a stacked exposure time of about 68 minutes, all exposures using a 12mm lens at f/4 and ISO 320.
We were in position on the top of a pinnacle before sunset. As sunset faded to dusk, and twilight turned to full night, I was able to snap some exposures that I could later use to add foreground color and detail to these images. For example, the pop-top camper in the bottom photo would not have been visible in the darkness of full night.
Depth perception also changes when you are perched on a high place at night in the darkness of no moon. The cliff below me faded until it almost seemed like I could walk across the crags to the rest of the Alabama Hills.
Oh yes, the Subway sandwich tasted suprisingly good in the darkness on my small pinnacle perch listening to the syncopated snapping of shutters and interval timers.
Want to learn the techniques I used to make these images (and much more)? Come to the Alabama Hills Star Circle Workshop, November 5-7, 2010. The dates are selected to coincide with the darkness of the moon, and we should get vast and clear skies in the Eastern Sierra. Alabama Hills presents almost unlimited opportunities for night photography—I can promise you won’t be bored.
There are still some places left in the workshop, but note that tuition goes up from $500 to $600 on October 16.
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