Monday, 28 January 2013

Why did the Photographer Take That Photo - This week's photographer, Alex Morley

This week Alex Morley shows us a fantastic image of Grand Teton National Park... I have seen some awesome images come out of this location, but this one is jaw dropping... and proof that you need to get up early and wait for the best time to get your image... take it away Alex....

Image by Alex Morley

This image is last fall in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. I got up at 3:00 am to get the twilight I wanted for this with no moon in the sky. I scouted the sight the day before, so I would know right where to go in the night. There are now grizzly bears in Wyoming, so I was trying to make noise like you should in bear country. I was all alone and it was dark and freezing! Suddenly I heard a lot of crashing in the woods with branches breaking, just across the water! It was frightening and I was thinking, “it’s a bear and I am way too close”! But then after several minutes, to my relief, a bull elk started bugling—much safer than a bear. Whew...
For astral images like this, you need to go out on a moonless night. Try to be away from city ”light pollution” as much as possible. You will need a tripod for long exposures. It is best to use a lens with as wide an aperture as possible; mine was f2.8. An f1.8 or f1.4 is even better. Start at ISO 1600. Use the lowest f-stop on your lens, and begin with a 15 second exposure. You then adjust your settings from there. For this image I ended up at ISO 3200, f 2.8, 25 seconds; Nikon D3s, Nikkor 14-24mm lens at 20mm, manual focused on infinity. Auto focus may not work if there is not enough light. If you go more than 30 seconds you will start to see the stars streaking. And don’t forget to bring your flashlight. I like to use a climber’s headlamp to keep my hands free.

It's worth staying up late or getting up early to get images like this. And it's a lot of fun experimenting. Most newer cameras are capable of pushing ISO up to at least 1600 with good results. Next time you are away from the city try this!

Alex Morley