Top 10 of 2016 (#1)

This is it; my best (favorite) image for 2016.  Choosing these 10 images from the year has been a difficult thing to do.  It is a great exercise, though, to see where I've been and evaluate my progression as a photographer.  My goal is to improve in this art form and hopefully a comparison of this year with last shows that to be the case.  And that next year will be even better.  That's the goal, anyway.  Regardless, it has been a fun ride, and one that I plan to continue for a while.

Of course this would be another night time image. And one captured in Utah, no less.  This was taken back in May during the trip to Capitol Reef National Park.  One of the things I wanted to shoot while there was the Milky Way.  The skies are really dark, so we just needed some clear skies.  This seemed to be about the only night that clouds didn't move in, so I took advantage of it.  

This shot was captured from Panorama Point, just after midnight on May 28.  After wandering around in the dark for a while, I decided that this tree would make a good foreground element to include in the shot.  However, it was so dark that the tree was just a silhouette and the ground was a sea of black.  That's when a little bit of light painting comes in handy.  In this instance, not much light was needed to illuminate that tree and the foreground.  I used the flashlight on my iPhone, and even had to partially cover it with my hand because it was too bright.  

Note that there is some trial and error involved in getting a shot like this.  There are a lot of things that have to be right and that usually doesn't happen without several test shots.  The exposure has to be right on, to show enough of the stars and Milky Way, but also be able to see enough of the foreground to make it interesting.  This could have been done in two separate shots and composited together on the computer, but I wanted to capturing it all in one.  Check out the final result and see what you think.  I hope to do many more of these in the summer of 2017.  

For those interested, here's the camera settings:

  • Focal length - 14 mm
  • Shutter speed - 30 seconds (to let in more light and give me time to "paint" the foreground)
  • Aperture - f/2.8 (as wide as my lens would allow)
  • ISO - 3200 (it was super dark and I wanted to see the Milky Way)

I hope you have enjoyed my images as much as I enjoyed creating them.  As 2016 winds down (literally within 15 minutes as I write this), and a new year begins, I'm ready for the new challenges that will come with it.  Stay tuned to my website, as I resolve to post more often and share more images here.  

Happy New Year!