Night over Hot Springs Valley

Star Trails over Hot Springs Valley

A moon-lit night in May 2016 over Hot Springs Valley at Grover Hot Springs State Park in Alpine County, CA. Looking west from the bench at the east end of the meadow, across from the campground entrance.

Exposure: 35 minutes, f/5.6, ISO 200 (7 stacked 5-minute exposures), using a Fuji X-T1 and 14 mm lens. Exposures were stacked in Photoshop using Floris van Breugel’sLighten-Screen-Blend” method for gapless star trails (highly recommended!).

Some plant photos taken this day and the next are posted here.

Copyright © 2016 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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2 Responses to Night over Hot Springs Valley

  1. Greg says:

    This came out really nice, Tim. And many thanks for the pointer to van Breugel. I’m still trying to get the exposure right in my own attempts. One question: How do you focus? Do you just set the camera at infinity, or at the hyperfocal distance, or …?

    Slightly off-topic, your flower pictures are also very nice. I notice on the snowplant that you managed to keep the white fringes from being blown out. I’ve found that those fringes are extremely white, and of course snowplants are sitting in dark shade usually, with the result that the fringes are easily lost in a white blur, and then with the body of the plant being so red, it’s also easy to blow out the red channel as well. But the fringes are important, they give the plant some texture, and the eye really wants to see the detail there. Similarly for your picture of the tarweed. Those fine white hairs add a lot, visually.

    • Tim Messick says:

      Hi, Greg! For focusing on stars: first, the camera and/or lens must be set to manual focusing, not autofocus (I think you already know that). Then, before it gets dark, I usually check the lens I’m going to use to see where the markings are when it actually focuses on infinity. Usually it’s when the focusing mark on the lens aligns with “infinity”, but not always. So when it’s dark, I just focus on infinity based on the markings. Then I like to stop down just a little (e.g., f/5.6) to provide a little more depth of field. I’m usually using a wide angle lens (20 mm on full-frame or 14mm on APS-C), and those tend to have more depth of field anyway.

      For the ciliate leaf margins on the snow plant and the light hairs on the tarweed: well, just lucky I guess. They came out okay without my paying special attention to them. The snow plants were in shade; the tarweed was in full sun. Both were probably a little under-exposed, then adjusted in Lightroom. Both should have had a little more depth of field, but they’re okay when viewed small.

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