In This Milky Velvet Sky

I spent a night last week on Mt. Pinos last week, in the middle of California 2 hours north of LA. Mt. Pinos is a well known spot for amateur astronomers due to the relatively little light pollution, open space, and as well as high altitude. During cloudless new moons, you'll often find dozens of telescopes aimed at various planets across the skies.

The night I was out there however, nobody else was there due to the fact that there was cloud in the sky and the moon was somewhere hiding around the horizon. Having the freedom of isolation, I was truly able to enjoy being under the blanket of stars.

15 Seconds at f/ 2.8, ISO6400

The key to shooting star points is to have a wide aperture coupled with high ISO. Anything above 20 seconds usually results in the star points becoming tiny lines due to the rotation of the earth. I was able to shoot using the relatively clean ISO of 6400 on the new Nikon D810 along with F2.8 from my wide angle lens. Usually however, there is still quite a bit post processing involved to reduce noise and to edit and bring back the photo to something similar to what I saw that night.

13 Seconds at f/ 2.8, ISO6400

I used a very cheap Rokinon 14mm F2.8 for all the photos. At $300, the lens provides tons of coverage, very little CA and relatively high sharpness wide open. With it I was able to capture the sky as the panorama I saw.

Categories: Landscape, Tutorial