Those familiar with my work know by now I love shooting nightscapes. There's something about being out in the stillness of the night, away from city lights and traffic noise that is very gratifying. There's also the excitement of not truly knowing what you're going to capture, because the sky is vast and the camera screen... well, it's not. You can choose a composition and settings you know from experience will work for the conditions, and other than being able to spot check on your camera/phone LCD, you don't truly know until you get to a PC how things will look.
This shot features one of my favorite landscape features: The Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Located about an hour East of Phoenix, the "supes" are the home of many legends of lost gold, massacres, and spirits. They are also a favorite for hikers and rock climbers, photographers and youtubers. Lost Dutchman refers to the most popular tale of the supes; a story about a German immigrant (called dutchman back in the day) who supposedly found and then hid a very productive gold mine. According to wiki, 9,000 people try to find it every year, and there are at least 62 versions of the legend! Regardless of whether it actually exists, the range is still a sight to behold and this you cannot monetize. Well, you can... if you want to buy this photo you can order it from here or contact me directly :)
I took this photo from Brown Rd just as it becomes Lost Dutchman Blvd, as it provides and excellent view of the West face of the range and at 3am, has very little traffic besides the coyotes, snakes and scorpions.
Using my trusty Sony A7rIV and Tamron 18-22mm F2.8 lens, I set up my tripod and tried out a few different compositions before deciding on the one I would keep. I then shot a series of 15 second photos at 3200 ISO, F2.8 and zoomed out as far as I can. I then slightly turned the camera to capture the "rest" of the Milky Way, as this lens wasn't wide enough at this angle. I captured 5 more frames, and decided that was enough for the sky.
For the foreground (the mountain), I focused on the mountain range and changed my F-stop to 3.5. I took a long exposure photo of 146 seconds. This was done in order to capture a crisp shot of the foreground without having to add artificial light (the long capture time makes up for that).
Back home, I used an app called Sequator , which is a free and incredibly useful app for stacking nightscapes. There are tons of YouTube tutorials for how to use this app, so I won't go into a lot of detail here.
This is a view of the interface and the
settings I usually use. Notice I don't bother with dark frames or noise frames- those are issues with dedicated astro cameras that we don't really have to worry about with mirrorless or DLSR. The multiple images of the same shot are "stacked" to maximize the light capture and detail in the photo. The base image is the foreground shot I took, which is identified by painting around it in the app.
The end result is a base photo which I then take into photoshop for additional editing.
More details to come in future posts, or if you're interested I also offer 1:1 courses.