The first time Mark and I hiked the Tomales Point Trail, we saw Tule Elks, but we didn’t get to the bluffs at the end of the trail. By the time we got back to the trailhead, the stars were out and I exposed a thirty second image of the old trees near Pierce Farm with the stars behind.
This first starry night image was underexposed. I salvaged it by boosting the exposure during the camera RAW conversion, then heavily processed the image for noise.
In life, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. But in photography you can sometimes have a second chance to make the right exposure.
When we hiked the trail a second time a week later, it was late and the stars and moon were out by the time we returned past the gnarled old trees at the abandoned Pierce Farm. I exposed the image properly at three minutes, with the crescent moon and Venus showing through the outline of the tree on the right. The three minute exposure was long enough that the motion of the earth added light-path tails to the celestial objects, and many stars in the night sky showed up pretty clearly (check out the image larger).
Actually, I like both versions.