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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.

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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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The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 2 of 2

This is part 2 of how I photographed the blood moon lunar eclipse on April 15th.
For info on how I photographed it with camera settings visit part 1. Here in part 2 I talk about how I enhanced it on the computer.

Following the 5 hours or so of sleep I got after photographing the lunar eclipse till 2:45 in the morning I began to create the final image on my 15″ MacBook Pro laptop.

The saguaro cactus scene that was photographed with my Sony a7 and Sony FE 35mm f2.8 lens was processed in the RAW converter Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

In the above screen shot you can see a before (bottom photo) and an after photo in C1. I made a number of slight tonal adjustments and color/saturation adjustments. I also corrected the perspective of the photo to remove distortion brought on by the wide angle lens, and corrected some lens vignetting. Notice the shadow detail I was able to bring out of the original photo. I have found I can pull out a great deal of shadow detail from the Sony a7/a7R cameras and Capture One Pro.

I exported the processed file as a tiff file to my computer, then opened it up in Perfect Layers in Perfect Photo Suite 8. While Perfect Photo can be opened as a plugin from Photoshop, I prefer to use it as a standalone program.

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The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 1 of 2

In part 2 you can read how I enhanced and built the composite photo using Capture One Pro and Perfect Photo Suite 8. Read it here.

Overnight on April 14 through early morning April 15th we were treated to a wonderful total eclipse of the moon that at it’s peak turned the moon a blood red color. The eclipse was visible to most of North and South America – at least visible to those of us who had clear skies that night.

Suess Lunar Eclipse over Phoenix web

“Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix”
North Phoenix, Arizona
Purchase prints of this photo right now during a special limited time promotion.

The event is rare, with the most recent total lunar eclipse happening on December 21, 2010. However we are in for a treat as we will have 3 more total eclipses in North America within the next 1.5 years: October 8 of 2014, April 5 of 2015, and September 28 of 2015. After that we will have to wait another 3 years before another one happens.

Some pre-planning first

I knew of the April 15th eclipse a few weeks prior to it happening, which gave me plenty of time to prepare. I was still going to be in Phoenix which was great as the weather is usually perfect and rarely cloudy & rainy. So I started planning my final image and what I needed to do to create it.

Right off the bat I knew I was going to somehow incorporate saguaro cacti in my photograph, as they are a unique feature here in the Sonoran Desert. I have been spending numerous evenings photographing sunsets this winter out in the desert where my RV is parked here in North Scottsdale and knew the location would be perfect for the eclipse.

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Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix

“Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix”.

Suess Lunar Eclipse over Phoenix web

 “Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix”
North Scottsdale, AZ
(Click on above photo to view larger and to order prints)

This 18 photo composite shows the entire lunar eclipse from April 14&15, 2014 starting with the moon on the far left at 10:45pm, peaking with a blood moon at 12:46am in the top center, and ending at 2:45am on the right.

This was photographed with my Sony a7 mirrorless digital camera, the Sony FE 35mm f2.8 lens, and a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens. RAW files were processed in Capture One Pro, and the composite was built and further enhanced in Perfect Photo Suite 8 from onOne Software. I will write a blog post soon on how I photographed and processed this image.

As always feel free to share 🙂

Prints are available here: http://www.mattsuess.com/fine-art-photography-complete-collection/e237993ef

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