The Virgin River in the Narrows at Zion National Park in Utah.

Welcome to my photography journal / blog Beyond the Lens where I try to have at least one or 2 posts, stories, reviews or tips each and every week.

 

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It’s Such a Heavenly View – Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone at Night

So the initial plan during the past 4th of July weekend was to spend three nights at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming photographing the night sky and Milky Way. I am teaching a nighttime photo workshop there next spring and needed more sample photos to show potential students the amazing opportunities that are possible.

After 2 hugely successful nights in the Tetons, and with a lot of cloud cover in Jackson, I decided to travel to Yellowstone for the third night of shooting. My girlfriend Whitney and I packed up the RV and left the Virginian Lodge RV Park at 6pm and headed north. And fortunate for me because the further north we travelled, the less clouds we encountered.

After photographing the Milky Way above Old Faithful and a couple other geysers, we headed to Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. It was cold, windy, we were all by ourselves, it was pitch dark, and there were no clouds!

We walked along the boardwalk to the top and I started photographing the Grand Prismatic Spring. Because of the cold and the wind, there was too much steam coming off the pool to see it very well and get a shot I had in my mind. So I started looking for other opportunities, and when I turned around to look down the boardwalk we had just walked from I instantly saw it and went to work.

Heavenly View 1400px

Having been out in the dark now for 45 minutes our eyes were fully adjusted to the night, and it was unbelievable the amount of stars we saw and how close they appeared to us! Like we could just reach out and touch them.

This photo, titled “Heavenly View”, is one of my favorite photos from that trip.

Each time I look at it I am transported back to that magical night with A Sky Full of Stars – it was such a Heavenly View! P.S. – thanks Coldplay for helping me with the title for this photo :).

It was a night I won’t soon forget.

Will Pokemon Go and other VR Games Become A Nuisance for Photographers

I am curious: have any photographers yet run into any issues with kids/adults looking to catch Pokemon in popular photo spots such as the barns in the Tetons or elsewhere?

Last week, before Pokemon Go was released, we were photographing the Milky Way above the John Moulton Barn at 11:30pm when someone’s headlamp walked into our shot and stayed there. We initially thought it was another photographer but when I walked up to the person to let them know where we were photographing from, it turned out to be a young adult playing the Ingress game (another VR game in which the map for Pokemon was based off of).

You can see the light from a young gentleman's phone under the trees in this photo. He was playing the VR game Ingress, similar to Pokemon Go.

You can see the light from a young gentleman’s phone under the trees in this photo. he was playing the VR game Ingress, similar to Pokemon Go.

He said he had to stay in position for a while to do whatever he had to do in the game (this was the first time I ever heard of these VR games). So we had to wait for a bit while his game did it’s thing.

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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.

String Lake Milky Way 1400px

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.

An Hour at Night at the John Moulton Barn 1400px

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.

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