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

A super wide angle lens is ideal for this location and I was using my Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens on my Sony a7R. It was a 26 second exposure at 8000 ISO at f2.8.

My final photo is a combination of 3 separate photos that I stitched together in Photoshop after processing the RAW files in Capture One Pro. Here is how the RAW files looked in Capture One Pro prior to any adjustments being made:

String-lake-3-1200px

Once I had the 3 photos combined, I used Macphun’s Creative Kit to finish enhancing the photo. In particular I used Intensify to bring out all of the detail and contrast in the Milky Way and I used Noiseless to lower the noise slightly. A few more minor corrections in Photoshop and my photo was finished.

FYI – the orange in the cloud is from light pollution – most likely from the other side of the Tetons in Idaho.

Want to learn more about photographing the night sky? Consider one of my photo workshops, including my 2017 Tetons Milky Way workshop.

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