String Lake Milky Way at Grand Teton National Park

Of all the times I have photographed the night sky, shooting the Milky Way at String Lake in Grand Teton National Park has to be one of my top highlights.

Words alone can’t describe the peacefulness encountered that evening as I was sitting on a rock at the edge of the lake in complete darkness, watching the stars and Milky Way reflected in the still water at 2am.

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I had photographed in this location a number of times in the daytime and as such I had a pretty good feeling this spot would pay off in the nighttime as well. Getting there at night sure is a little harrowing driving along roads in complete darkness looking out for any elk, deer, foxes, or any other animals that might want to dart out in front of you. I kept my speed at 35-40mph, even though the limit was 45mph, just to be safe (as I usually do while driving through the Tetons and Yellowstone at night).

One other safety tip if you decide to go photograph there especially at night – don’t forget to bring your bear spray!

How I Photographed This

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An Hour at Night at the John Moulton Barn in the Tetons

I just returned from 2 nights of Milky Way photography in Grand Teton National Park and 1 night in Yellowstone during a new moon.

Weather conditions were perfect for me with little clouds which provided a fantastic view of the night sky.

On my second evening out, I spent almost 5 hours at the famous Moulton barns in the Tetons. One shot I wanted to get was a very long exposure of the stars above the Tetons with one of the barns in the foreground.

This photo is the result of my efforts. It shows an elapsed time of one hour, and it is a combination of 15 photos each 4-minutes in duration from approx. 12:44am to 1:44am.

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Here is how I photographed it

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Switch to Aurora HDR Today During Their Limited Time Offer

As many of you know, my favorite HDR program is Macphun’s Aurora HDR Pro. If you are looking for natural HDR photos for your landscape photos or a more gritty and “artistic” look for all photo subjects, Aurora is hands down the best HDR software program out there.

It was released in November of 2015 and just recently they passed over 500,000 downloads!

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And now they have a limited time special offer for those wanting to switch from any other HDR program. Here are the details:

  • *Special Competitive upgrade price: $79.99 $20 Savings

  • Exclusive live webinar with Trey Ratcliff

  • 20 Minute Deep Dive Aurora HDR tutorial with Trey

  • Jeff Carlson HDR ebook

  • A collection of full resolution textures from Flypaper textures

  • How to HDR video training with me, Matt Suess

  • Promotion good now through July 31

*competitive upgrade pricing requires screenshot of their existing HDR app to qualify, qualifying competitive upgrade apps include but are not limited to: Photomatix, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, HDR Efex Pro, and many more

Looking for more info about this awesome offer? Want to download a free trial first? Head over to Aurora’s website today and check it out!

Special Contest Too!

In addition, there is a cool contest you are going to want to enter.

Macphun has teamed up with leading photography magazines in the US, UK and Austrailia to feature the best HDR photos on a monthly basis. Partner Magazines include: The Outdoor Photographer (USA), Digital Photography (USA), Digital Camera (UK) and Australian Photography (AU). Each magazine will feature an ad spotlighting the winning Aurora HDR photo on their back cover each month for the next four months.

You can find out full competition details and deadlines online here.

Beware of Bad Rokinon Lenses

If you are into Milky Way and nightscape photography, two of the best lenses out there are from Rokinon – the Rokinon 24mm f1.4 and the Rokinon 14mm f2.8.

BUT – make sure you get a good one!

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When I ordered my 24mm lens, I finally didn’t get a good version of the lens until my 3rd one. The first two lenses had issues with one side of the frame being soft.

Today I took delivery of two 14mm lenses, thinking that one of them would be ok. Both were bad and are being returned to B&H Photo. In the meantime I have 2 more lenses being sent my way.

One lens has the issue with being soft on one side. The other lens is sharp side to side, but just off center the image is soft and has what appears to be a glow effect in it.

This image is soft on the right-hand side. Shot at f2.8 on a Sony a7R.

This image is soft on the right-hand side. Shot at f2.8 on a Sony a7R. Click on photo to download the full-resolution image.

 

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This photo has issues just off-center. Shot at f2.8 on a Sony a7R. Click on photo to download the full-resolution image.

 

Night photographers love these lenses because they are much less expensive than the comparable Nikon/Canon versions. And not only are they cheaper, but they produce better images with less artifacts when shooting stars wide open.

They are less expensive for two reasons: 1) they are full manual lenses, and 2) the company doesn’t invest much in quality control. The soft side issue I have been having is common with these lenses. The other issue I had? I haven’t come across that one yet.

If you are considering getting one or both of these great lenses, make sure you buy from a company that has a good return policy and be sure to test them out right away! I am hoping one of the next 2 lenses that are headed my way is a perfect one.

Want to take a workshop with me and learn how to photograph the Milky Way and nightscapes? Check out my photo workshop page for available workshops!

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Free Webinar Wednesday June 8 with Aurora HDR

UPDATE:

The webinar has already happened and you can watch a recording of it here:

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FREE WEBINAR
 
Join me this Wednesday, June 8 at 10am PST during a FREE live webinar I am presenting with Macphun regarding Aurora HDR.
 
You have to register for the webinar and you can do that here on this page.
I will be showing off some of my favorite tools and tricks using Aurora HDR software. Watch, learn, and ask questions during this 1 hour live event!
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Watch My Newest Online Photo Class for FREE with Aurora HDR Pro

I am very excited to announce the availability of my newest online photo class – and this one is completely FREE!

Last month both a cameraman and a producer from Skillshare flew out from New York to Arizona to film me out in the field and behind the computer using Macphun’s Aurora HDR software. In the online class (there are 2 classes by the way, with the second one being released in a week or 2) I talk first about techniques for shooting HDR photos in the field, and second, processing those photos in Aurora HDR.

If you ever wanted to learn how to shoot multiple exposures for HDR photos as well as process them in the best HDR software out there, this class is for you!

Not only is this class available for free, but you will also receive 3 free months of access to Skillshare’s 1,000’s of online classes by using the link in this email!

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My online class, titled Intro to HDR Photography: Shooting and Editing High Dynamic Range, already has over 1,000 students and is the top trending class on the entire Skillshare website – and it has only been available for half a day! 

The interior of an old truck at Gold King Mine Ghost Town in Jerome, Arizona

 

If you are not a member of Skillshare, use this special link to sign up for FREE and enjoy 3 months of access to my course and 1,000’s of others. And keep an eye out for Part 2 of my HDR class, where I will talk much more about editing in Aurora HDR.

Feel free to also share this post with anyone else you think might enjoy either my HDR online class and/or 3 free months of access to Skillshare!


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