After two early mornings and one late night shooting the stars in the Shenandoah Mountains I’ve captured some shots that are among my favorites. My longest shutter speed exceeded 20 minutes of exposure time (the above shot is just over 18 minutes) and the best images were captured after 1:30am on a Sunday night. This kind of shooting requires serious camera technique since I’m sharing the shots pretty much out-of-camera (meaning they’re not getting much attention in Photoshop).
The Sunday night I ventured into the Shenandoah Mountains was the third trip I took and I was there only to shoot the stars. I wasn’t worried about the sun coming up before I was done and I wanted to see if any differences existed between shooting in the the early morning (starting at 4:30am) and shooting in the late night (starting at about 10:30pm). It turns out there are huge differences between the two times and those differences will be the subject of the blog entry. Along the way I’ll also talk a bit about the settings I used to get my favorite star trail shot to date.
Unintended consequences (also called unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) can be defined as an outcome that is not the one intended by a purposeful action. Unintended consequences, for my photography, is when I am exploring one idea and I discover a whole new idea.
During my first early morning trip into the Shenandoah Mountains I wanted to photograph the sunrise and some fall colors. When I planned my arrival I thought I’d be sitting in my car for an hour waiting for the sun to come up. I arrived that morning and I saw the stars above me for the first time and I didn’t spend a single second in my car waiting for sunrise. I Jumped out of my car and began photographing the stars and learning a whole new form of photography (for me).
I’ve never tried to shoot the stars before from a location like this and once I started I knew I was going to run out of darkness (which was happening fast with sunrise quickly approaching) and that meant that I couldn’t do everything I wanted in just one trip. I proceeded to learn as much as possible on that first trip and I started thinking about a follow up trip. For this blog entry I’ll talk about my second early morning adventure into the Shenandoah Mountains and how I captured some of my favorite shots to date.
There are some things I love to photograph. But because I can get pretty busy my work it sometimes keeps me from going out to photograph the things I love to shoot. For example, I love shooting long exposure shots late at night and early in the morning. I also love to shoot sunrises and sunsets, especially in really cool scenic locations. I’m a pretty lucky person because where I live in Northern Virginia offers me some incredible opportunities to see and photograph everything from the capital city to some incredible National Parks.
After long months of working exclusively on client projects I found myself caught up and I had a little time for myself. I thought very seriously about taking a break from my camera and laptop computer. And then I remembered something my friend, Gene, recently told me. He said that I needed to start getting away from all of the flash shots and spending so much time in Photoshop. He said that I needed to go out with a camera and get back to basics. In other words, get back to what brought me into the world of photography in the first place.
This blog entry will talk about how I took Gene’s advice and I did something I haven’t done in a very long time.
For this blog post I want to talk about personal projects and exploring new forms of photography. I love being out in the scary unknown places that other photographers might try to avoid. I used to stay safely in my comfort zone but when I ventured outside of that safe place I grew as a photographer and I became considerably more creative not just behind my camera but in Photoshop as well.
I think it’s pretty easy to find safety in our photography. When I became serious about my location portrait work I quickly discovered it was anything but safe. My success as a photographer comes from being completely comfortable whenever I’m in a situation filled with challenges. I have confidence and I’m able to show leadership to my team and whoever is in front of my camera no matter what complications a location throws at me. To be at my best in these situations I embrace the unknown and put myself into new photographic situations as often as possible.
To get more comfortable with new situations I like to give myself personal projects and I like to get creative for the last shot of a shoot that is completely different from what I’ve done in the past. For this blog entry I want to share the story about an “end of the shoot” image that wasn’t like any shot I’ve ever taken.