Starry Night

Starry Night

Starry Night, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger

Many of my night photos are created in homage to Vincent van Gogh, who wrote in a letter to his brother Theo, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The star swirl in this image seems particularly van Gogh, so I thought I’d name this one Starry Night, after one of his most famous works.

This photo was taken from Glacier Point in the middle of the night after the moon had set (you can compare the version from the same spot lit partially by the moon).

I made 14 captures using an automated timer, all with my Nikon D200 and 10.5mm digital fisheye at ISO 100 (of course, using a tripod). The first, and longest, exposure was at 8 minutes and f/2.8. The remaining exposures were at 4 minutes and f/4 (to capture the star trails). I then stacked the captures in Photoshop CS3 Extended using the Statistic script set to Maximum mode.

I found that the result included some unfortunate light flaring, as well as some purple sensor burning. So I went back through the 13 four minute captures carefully, and found one with both the flaring and some unintentional foreground light painting. I must have been looking at my other camera with my headlamp on, and lit some of the area of this image by mistake. I fixed the problem by removing the offending capture and restacking the images.

But there were a few areas of the capture that I’d removed that enhanced the image. So I laid it on top of the stacked version, and used a layer mask and paintbrush to paint in these areas.

I also needed to lighten up the foreground. So I reprocessed the eight minute exposure with this in mind, and layered it on top of the other layers, using a gradient to bring out foreground detail.

After this, it was my normal workflow.

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite