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Thread: Stars over Texas


  1. #1
    Forum Master tjavery's Avatar
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    Stars over Texas

    Critique: CC:

    I continued to work on my night photography last year when and where possible. Living in Houston, I don't often get a chance to see dark skies and the Milky Way :-)


    1. The Milky Way
    Near Utopia, TX (August 2010)



    Canon 5D2 + Canon 24mm f/1.4LII
    f/2.0, 25 sec., ISO 3200
    New moon. No light painting. Light on left horizon from town of Utopia.


    2. Tree
    San Saba Co., TX (December 2010)



    Canon 5D2 + Canon 24mm f/1.4LII
    f/2.0, 25 sec., ISO 3200
    Quarter moon off to the left + LED light painting on tree.


    3. Branches
    San Saba Co., TX (December 2010)



    Canon 5D2 + Sigma 50mm f/1.4
    f/2.0, 25 sec., ISO 3200
    Quarter moon off to the left + LED light painting on branches.


    4. Ranch Gate Decoration
    San Saba Co., TX (December 2010)



    Canon 5D2 + Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS
    f/2.8, 30 sec., ISO 3200
    Quarter moon behind me, but gate was painted black and didn't reflect much light.


    Any C&C welcomed and greatly appreciated.

    FYI - I wrote an article on this style of photography explaining the technical details. It is available here:
    http://www.thomasjavery.com/notes/starshots.pdf
    (it is a 3.6 MB PDF file)
    best regards,
    TJ Avery
    www.thomasjavery.com

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  3. #2
    Member sbfuller's Avatar
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    i love the stars in #1. for my personal taste i think there are too many branches on the right. I like thetrees going up the left side and the smaller one on the right bottom, but the one coming from the top right makes it feel a little more closed in to me and i think a bigger more open feel would add more feeling to it of the huge expanse of space out there

  4. #3
    Collecting Photons DigitalScape's Avatar
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    Nice work, TJ. I like the composition and exposure of the first two images. The third image is doing it for me - for me, the interest is the sky/stars, but the tree is not adding to the image. For the last image I would either crop the bottom portion (under the animals) or fill it in with black (probably crop it).

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    Account Closed Per User Request Todd Lambert's Avatar
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    TJ, these are great! I especially like the 2nd one. I know what you mean about not seeing the Milky Way. I'm in Dallas, and I have to drive at least 2 hours to get to anywhere that is dark enough for decent stars - let alone the milky way, as you've captured.

  6. #5
    Moderator my3peas's Avatar
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    love #3! inspiring me to do some night stuff...too bad there's clouds tonight :-/

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    Forum Master DLunt's Avatar
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    Very inspiring. I love number one.
    David L. (Formally Nikonfan)
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    You Can't Be Serious!! lhdvies's Avatar
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    I like them Tj.
    I agree with the cropping or filling the bottom of that last one & I would make it a Sportsman's Christmas card! ( The stars look like snow).
    lhdvries

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    Senior Member biggin's Avatar
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    I like #1, I agree that a little less tree on the right would have been nice but still very nice.

    # 2 is nice, I like the light painting on the tree.

  10. #9
    Member soupcxan's Avatar
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    Great stuff - how did you keep the stars from turning into trails on the 25 sec exposures? Did you use a tracker or stack images?
    Canon S95, Gorillapod, HP ZR24w

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    Forum Master DLunt's Avatar
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    In my experience you can keep the stars pretty sharp with a 20 second exposure. Much past that and you start to get blur. I would think it would take a few minutes or more to get trails.
    David L. (Formally Nikonfan)
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    Senior Member SJHester's Avatar
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    loving number 1

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    rotaredoM rab3rd's Avatar
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    I would like to give some CC but I am still wow'ed by the first two. Fantastic shots...
    Last edited by rab3rd; 03-07-2011 at 07:28 PM. Reason: cause I cant type
    Its a dog eat dog world and I'm wearing milkbone underware...

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    Forum Master tjavery's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your comments! I appreciate them.

    All the suggestions are pretty much in line with my thoughts. So, thanks! and it's good to have the confirmation.

    I've been working on trying new things outside of just featuring the Milky Way by itself. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just gets old after shooting it repeatedly:



    I like the looks when framing the Milky Way (the first shot in the original post), but then you have to get just the right shapes and forms. It's hard fumbling around in the dark to find the right scene :-) This is where scouting ahead of time really helps.

    Light painting is very tricky with shots like this. The exposure is extremely sensitive to light, so just a second or two with a small LED flashlight is more than enough to throw out some fill light. (and that's shining the light from a good 10 or 15 yards away)

    Shooting at longer focal lengths makes the background nicely blurred and really puts an emphasis on the subject (provided the focus is set right on the subject).

    What I've found is that an exposure of 25 seconds (give or take 5) is just about right to avoid noticeable star trails in a medium to large print. This is shooting at 24mm (effective - full frame terms).

    Shooting exposures longer than that emphasizes the star trails. However, in shots at longer focal lengths (e.g. the ones shot at 50mm and 100mm), since the background (stars) are highly blurred, the movement isn't as noticeable. You can see the elongated blurs in the last one of the ranch gate - the stars are starting to trail there.

    Here is another one at 100mm (below). This time, the subject (part of a small, bare tree) is very close to the camera, about 3 or 4 feet away. The background is highly blurred.

    best regards,
    TJ Avery
    www.thomasjavery.com

  15. #14
    Account Closed Per User Request Todd Lambert's Avatar
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    Nice, I got to try some close up stuff like that.

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    TJ Awesome work!!! 1 & 2 are my picks, In #1 the one stalk of grass is a bit distracting.
    #2 Really, really like the way you luminate the tree.

    I have been really inspired after seeing some of you work in the past. I read your tutorial on how you did this type of work. Found a lens I think should work great for this, just need to find a dark part of the earth to try it on. Just love the way you compose these shots.
    Last edited by Stargazer77517; 03-08-2011 at 06:55 AM.

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